This marks the 10th annual installment of "The 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida."
The anniversary seems like a good time to remember why we publish this each year.
It's not to stroke egos. (Heaven knows, that's the last thing a few folks on this list need.)
The idea was to give readers a peek behind the curtain at who pulls the strings in this town. Those with the clout to make things happen — or, sometimes, the ability to stop an initiative dead in its tracks.
For better and worse, these are the folks who help shape Central Florida.
They can affect the roads you travel, the jobs you hold, the health care you receive and the schools your kids attend.
This list isn't mine. Heck, sometimes I don't even agree with all of it. Instead, I tap a panel of plugged-in leaders — business execs, nonprofit leaders, elected officials and more — who cast votes for 25 people they think have the most clout. (Though it's actually 26 this year, because we had an unusual tie for 25th place.)
And, by and large, they do a good job revealing the identities of those who make things happen.
25 (tie).TOM WILLIAMS
Universal Orlando president. (Last year: not ranked.)
Universal has always taken a back seat to Disney when it comes to tourism titans in this town. But Harry Potter let everyone know there was a new wizard in town. Williams, 66, hasn't been as personally involved in community ventures as other on this list. But his park is thriving. As one panelist said: "After Universal puts in another 10,000 hotel rooms, Disney better watch out."
25 (tie). BELVIN PERRY
Chief circuit judge (Last year: 12th)
Central Florida's most famous judge is a force on fronts beyond the courthouse. He battles legislators for judicial reform in Tallahassee and crusades for the downtrodden throughout Central Florida. This past year, Perry, 64, also helped set up veterans court. He slipped a bit in this year's ranking — with one panelist wondering whether Perry was more interested in leaving Orlando for Hollywood. But he's still a respected force.
24. DEIRDRE MACNAB
League of Women Voters of Florida president. (Last year: 24th.)
"Fearless" is one word often used to describe Macnab, 58, of Winter Park. While some local leaders cower before most powerful legislators, Macnab has stood up to Tallahassee's frat pack on behalf Floridians for voting rights and ethics reform. And with about 30 chapters of the League throughout the state, Macnab's influence is only growing.
23. FRANK KRUPPENBACHER
Lawyer, chairman of Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. (Last year: not ranked.)
Orlando International Airport is one of this tourist community's prime economic engines. Not just because it brings tourists, but also because it has expansion plans worth billions. Sometimes Kruppenbacher, 61, seems more interested in spending big than spending wisely. (Twice, Sentinel investigations revealed expansion plans to be far more expensive than some construction — and airline — experts said was needed.) But Kruppenbacher made adjustments and plowed ahead — and is a political buddy of Gov. Rick Scott to boot.