Former CF Student Now City Councilmember: An Interview With Kristen Dreyer


Kristen Dreyer has worn many hats during the 28 years since she moved to Florida from Long Island. Last year, she won a special election to finish Matthew Wardell’s term and now serves as a councilmember for the City of Ocala. You might already recognize her name from the many RE/MAX yard signs around town, where Dreyer works as a real estate agent. But did you know that she actually got her start here at the College of Central Florida?

Born in 1978 in Syosset, New York, Dreyer grew up within walking distance of the beach.

“It was the type of place where all of the kids would go home after school … and go out to play until your parents called you at dinner time,” said Dreyer. When the family moved to Citrus County in 1994, Dreyer attended Lecanto High School. Later, she began taking classes at Central Florida Community College, as the College of Central Florida was known until 2010.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, Dreyer worked as a mental health counselor at West Street School in Sumter County. Eventually, she made her way back to Ocala, where she started a family. While raising her children, Dreyer began volunteering with the East Ocala Community Redevelopment Agency, which allowed her to build relationships with local leaders. When news broke that Councilmember Wardell was resigning from District 4 to focus on graduate school, Dreyer saw an opportunity to run for office.

Among six candidates, Dreyer came in first with 30.95% of the votes, but she then faced a challenging runoff election. When asked what she learned from the campaign, Dreyer said, “Politics is very dirty in this town. I had no idea that it would be as ugly as it was. … I also learned that you are only as good as your team.”

Dreyer’s right hand on the campaign trail was Angie Lester, a fellow real estate agent and longtime friend. Lester recalled a low moment in the campaign when they were facing an attack ad.

“She had to make the decision: Do you want to get dirty about this?” Lester said. “And she said, ‘I want to take the high road. My kids are watching. Other people’s kids are watching. I don’t want to do that.’”

The high road paid off, and with historic turnout, Dreyer won the runoff with 52.48% of the vote.

When asked what advice she would give to a student interested in politics, Dreyer emphasized the importance of public service.

“You don’t just go from being a regular person to an elected official without having earned your stripes by serving on different boards or joining different volunteer groups and really getting your hands dirty,” she said.

When asked what’s next in her career, Dreyer stated that she plans to focus on things that benefit taxpayers and that she hopes to run for re-election in 2023.