Leader of the pack: Patty Sheehan makes remarkable waves as she launches her fifth term


District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan hasn’t had the easiest of years, but she’s made certain to make it easier for much of Orlando’s LGBT population. In addition to being out, loud and proud, Sheehan has tackled all of the issues, from marriage equality to sidewalks and back again. By now, most Orlandoans know of Sheehan’s attention to detail – don’t even try to take away her giant binder of ordinances and research; she will attack, and you won’t like that.

She’s got the power.

“The Jan. 6 wedding at City Hall was amazing of course. That was such an amazing way to start the year. Everything from Constitution Green to the election, really,” she says, forming her own list of remarkable 2015 events in her head. “It’s just been one great thing after another.”

Sheehan, who rose from activist to political icon (and, let’s be honest, sometimes political pariah) nearly two decades ago is a changed woman who is making change. She’s not at all secretive about her public, romantic break-up – one that followed her adamant support of Orlando’s domestic partnership registry and gay marriage – nor does she hide the fact that she’s recently recovered, as much as one does, from alcohol abuse. Instead of falling into the usual tropes of just giving up, she stuck her hair up in glory, turned on her smile and started making things happen.

Some of those things are more pleasant than others. On the one hand, Sheehan has taken on a youth leadership summit with the Zebra Coalition (or “Zebra Kids,” as she calls them), on all of the fingers of the other hand, she deals with the less marquee-worthy elements of municipal duty. To wit, she’s a big fan of Orlando’s compost program, a fragrant example of her willingness to get her hands dirty. She’s also a proponent of murals, bus shelters, trees and all other things green.

“I want to be commissioner cool,” she says. “I want people to come to me with ideas that they think aren’t possible, and I want to make them possible. …
I prefer to think about positive things. My whole mantra this year was to be more positive.”

And she has.


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