Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan goes up against new-to-politics Corey DeVogel for District 4

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

ORLANDO | While most political eyes are set squarely on 2020’s election year, the City of Orlando is holding general elections Nov. 5 for mayor and several city council seats; including that of District 4, currently occupied by the city’s first openly LGBTQ commissioner Patty Sheehan.

Sheehan, who was first elected to the District 4 seat in 2000, is running for her sixth term. During Sheehan’s fifth term as a city commissioner, she helped to pass the Orlando Police Department’s Safe Place Initiative, which provides safe spots for those within the LGBTQ community throughout Orlando should they find themselves victims of crime. She also assisted in the creation of the Orlando Youth Empowerment Summit, which is a free conference dedicated to empowering LGBTQ youth and allies through education and support.

But Sheehan’s current term was dominated by one event, the Pulse tragedy in 2016.

“People don’t realize how very difficult that was. Elected officials, if you’re lucky, you never have to deal with something like that where the entire community is suffering for something so horrendous like what happened at Pulse,” Sheehan says. “[Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer] and I went through hell after Pulse together and the bottom line is, I think we just both needed some time to heal.”

Sheehan says that several projects she planned to address in her fifth term are going to be a focus of her sixth term if she is re-elected.

“I really want to work with some art stuff now,” she says. “I’m the senior member of council. There are things I’m able to do that I wasn’t able to do when I was a junior council member.”

It looked as if Sheehan was going to have an easy go at picking up her sixth term in office as she was running for the position unopposed, until the last minute. Political newcomer Corey DeVogel seemingly came out of nowhere—filing to run against Sheehan on Sept. 13, the filing deadline for the 2019 election.

“It’s a democracy. Anybody can run but we intend to beat him,” Sheehan says. “My alarm is I can’t tell anything about him. He seems to have wiped all the social media history clean. I don’t even know who this person is. I’ve been integrally involved in everything happening in this area for the past 25 years and I’ve never heard of this person. So I’m a little alarmed by that fact.”

At 26 years old, DeVogel fits comfortably into the millennial generation, and while having a social media presence isn’t a millennial requirement it seems odd to Sheehan and many of her supporters that he wouldn’t have any social media.

DeVogel says he realizes that a millennial without a heavy social media presence is odd, but states that it isn’t for any nefarious purpose.

“I didn’t go through and scrub my social media clean,” he says. “I had a Facebook and an Instagram but I just wasn’t active with them in college. Throughout high school I was really active on it and then I just stopped using it.”

Watermark did find a Facebook account for DeVogel under the name of “Corey LegoVed” but the account had privacy settings set so no postings could be read. An Instagram for DeVogel was also found but had no photos posted.

“When I had them I found myself just spending hours scrolling through and I decided instead of focusing on social media I would go bike riding or go to the gym or volunteer,” DeVogel says. “I just didn’t put a lot of time into social media.”

DeVogel does admit that a social media presence is a necessity for public office and says he will be launching a new Facebook account soon.

As far as filing on the final day, DeVogel says he had planned to launch his campaign in early July but that unforeseen medical reasons caused him to back out at that time.

“I ended up having to have minor surgery and had to put everything on hold,” he says. “A month before the deadline I was contemplating whether or not I should even do it. When I decided that I was going to go for it and run this term I started to gather the proper paperwork and that’s when Hurricane Dorian came. So it seemed like one hurdle after another and I managed to get everything together that I needed and went down on the deadline.”

Lack of a social media presence and filing at the deadline in and of itself is odd for someone with aspirations for political office says Sheehan, but the thing that concerns her most is the only information she can find on DeVogel is an uncle who Sheehan describes as a white nationalist.

Speaking with DeVogel, he says that he has an uncle who lives in Georgia who he describes as “your standard beer-drinking, Trucker hat-wearing Southern guy.”

“I don’t know if he’s got all that other stuff going on. I think it was like four or five years ago that I last saw him. We were in North Carolina and we drove through to say hi. I haven’t really spoken to him since then,” he says.

Sheehan says she welcomes the challenge but cautions voters who may vote for DeVogel because they feel local government “needs a shake up.”

“I have been doing this for almost 20 years and it wasn’t all about me, and I never made it all about me,” she says. “It’s about taking time to build relationships in the community. Those are relationships that I have.”

The general election for Orlando City Council District 4 is Nov. 5.

Share this story: