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Far From Finished

Orlando mayor buddy dyer has led the city for more than two decades, but in the midst of his final term he’s still motivated to do more.

Having served as mayor of Orlando since 2003, Buddy Dyer is now the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. After winning reelection this past November, Dyer announced this mayoral term will be his last. But, before he leaves office and a legacy behind, the self-proclaimed “happiest mayor in America” has got plenty more he wants to accomplish.

A Central Florida native, Dyer has strong ties to the community, so we were thrilled for the opportunity to sit down with the married father of two sons to discuss his years leading Orlando, his future plans and more.

You were born in Orlando and grew up in Kissimmee, what are some of your fondest childhood memories of Central Florida?
One of my fondest memories of growing up was being able to go outside until the sun set and watching all the fireflies and lightning bugs. There were many years that I played baseball, and I was in as many as three different leagues.

You have mentioned that this will be your last term in office as Mayor of Orlando. What are some of your major goals for this final term?
My goal has always been to ensure our city is a vibrant, economically viable and thriving city for everyone, now and into the future. I will continue to develop Orlando as the “Metacenter of the Metaverse” and continue to attract and nurture an environment where companies with emerging technologies of all kinds can prosper.

Additionally, we look forward to the implementation of DTO 2.0 and the completion of Phase Two of our Creative Village with the transformation of the Bob Carr Theater that will add to the innovation and educational hub and technology ecosystem that exists in the Parramore neighborhood.

Transportation is also front of mind as we look to expand SunRail to the airport and I-Drive, as well as create more transit options for our community. We are also committed to creating a Pulse memorial through taking a thoughtful, collaborative approach to understand the history of the effort and to ensure there is a memorial that honors the victims, those impacted by the tragedy and pays tribute to the resiliency of Orlando.

What would you like your legacy as mayor to be?
Choosing partnership, unity and collaborating across party lines to get things done for the betterment of our city. Together with our community, we’ve worked to make Orlando one of the greatest cities in America. That didn’t happen by accident, but with strategic partnerships and working together for the greater good.

What is a typical day in your life like?
There is no typical day in the life of the mayor. Even what is on my calendar is not likely to be exactly what I do on any given day. We try our best to anticipate things, but there are many surprises that come up.

How would you describe Orlando to someone who has never visited our city?
While it is a city that is known worldwide, it’s also one that people may not realize what it’s actually like to live here. It’s an incredibly diverse and welcoming city that offers an array of amenities for all ages and a very high quality of life.

How do you think Orlando compares to other major cities in the country?
We don’t like to compare Orlando to other cities, but we do like other cities to compare themselves to Orlando. However, we do believe we have all the high-quality amenities of a very large city and yet still have a small neighborhood atmosphere.

How did you get the nickname Buddy?
My father’s name was John Dyer, and I am John Dyer Jr. My dad’s nickname was “Butch” and my mother did not want me to be called “Little Butch.” So, I became “Buddy.” My son John Dyer III is nicknamed “Trey,” and my grandson is John Dyer IV and he’s “Forrest.” We now have five generations where we have not had a female born in our family, yet.

What are your favorite things to do in Orlando?
It’s evolved over time. When my children were young, or in high school, the things I liked to do generally revolved around their activities. Now one of my favorite things to do is to walk in various neighborhoods and parks around our city and take [our dog] Sammie for a stroll.

Orlando is often referred to as the “Theme Park Capital of the World”. Do you have a favorite theme park ride?
Theme Park rides are like children. I can’t pick among them.

What is something most people are surprised to learn about you?
I played rugby at Brown University and John F. Kennedy Jr. played on the team, along with the President of Bank of America, Brian Moynihan.