It was the last question of the evening at an impromptu Candidate Forum held last Thursday night in the backroom of the Taverna Italiano Restaurant at Rock Springs Ridge.  “Would you vote to rezone the Rock Springs Ridge golf course and allow residential and commercial development to occur?”

Mary Bilbray

The question was asked by Mary Bilbray, a resident of Pines of Weikiva.  Bilbray had organized the forum with the idea that it would be a townhall format allowing Apopka residents to personally ask questions of the candidates.

The turnout was very light, probably because, according to Bilbray, she began to organize and promote the meeting on Wednesday morning.  Some of those invited did not know of the event until Thursday.  Sam Ruth, the incumbent candidate for Seat #3 told The Apopka Voice that he learned the event was on at 2:00 PM on Thursday.

Ruth’s opponent, Doug Bankson, was in attendance as was Kyle Becker, who is running for Seat #4 against incumbent Bill Arrowsmith.  Arrowsmith did not attend the event.  In a conversation with The Apopka Voice Arrowsmith expressed concerns that it would be a violation of the Florida Sunshine Law should he and Ruth, both elected officials, be together in an unofficial meeting discussing issues relating to the City of Apopka.

In addition to the four candidates in the April 12 run-off election, Bilbray also invited former candidates Young Kim and Alice Nolan.  Nolan was invited an hour before the start of the 8:00 PM event and was unable to make the necessary arrangements to attend.

Bilbray asked the candidates present a series of targeted questions.  She indicated that she was asking questions that her friends and neighbors were asking her.  The questions ranged from, “What can be done to increase home values,” to “How can we attract more business to Apopka.”  The conversation also included a discussion of alleged coordination of the various campaigns (all candidates denied any such efforts).

There was also a discussion about Christine Moore’s ongoing role in the Ruth and Becker campaigns.  “I have not spoken to her since she left (my campaign),” said Ruth.  “I have talked to her 2 or 3 times since March 15th,” said Becker. “She advises me on which neighborhoods to focus on.  She does not control my content,” he continued.

Bilbray asked Bankson questions about the John Land Apopka Community Trust.  Bankson reminded everyone that he was on the board of the trust but was not an officer.  He acknowledged that the trust stumbled during its startup but now has a website to inform the public as to the trust’s purpose and activities.

The final question of the night pertained to the future of the Rock Springs Ridge golf course.  Bankson, Becker, and Ruth all said they would not support rezoning the golf course to allow residential and/or commercial development.  The Apopka Voice asked Arrowsmith the same question on Friday morning.  “I would not vote for rezoning unless a super-majority of the Rock Springs Ridge homeowners voted in favor of rezoning at a referendum,” was Arrowsmith’s response.

Bibray plans to stream a video of the event on the internet soon.



  1. Hello. No agenda I just had some questions I wanted some answers I am an undecided voter who wanted to bring everyone together. It was wonderful.

  2. There is apparently another website that is coming in also similar to this article about RSR, above the article above, on my computer. What the heck, is going on? My security said it was recommended not to continue, that it is coming from a different website. Dale, I trust your site, but not this other website. Just saying…….it doesn’t include the photos of the candidates or the lady’s photo, as in the article above, and has an X at the left side to exit. Does not look normal either! Security issued a warning on my computer………just saying!

  3. Let me see, Ms. Bilbray managed to get four of the Apopka City Council candidates together with hardly any notice, except for Commissioner Arrowsmith, who had legitimate concerns about the sunshine laws, but he too answered the RSR question. Maybe Ms. Bilbray wants to run for council next go round, or MAYBE SHE WANTS TO BE THE NEXT CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR APOPKA!!! No agenda? Fishy???

    • Hey sorry I just saw these. I’d like to say I am not a campaign manager.I moved here a year and a half ago. I have a small children’s boutique. That I want to put in Apopka. But there are some concerns. I am not familiar with anyone here. I’m not a “city politics,”type girl. So I will tell you how I got involved, I’m in the Republican Party. I received an email from the party saying vote for Arrowsmith. I said,” now wait a minute, who is this guy?” I can’t vote for someone I don’t know I have to see who he is. Who he is running against etc. So of course, I get this on voting day. I had recently been traveling a lot lately. So I was unaware of what was going on in the city. So I thought maybe I can meet all the candidates by 5:30. Lol mamma Mia, I tell you what you would have laughed. My mother sure was. I was running around town and googling. I first met Sam Ruth in the parking lot of the church. He gave me a flyer we spoke on some of the issues with the city. During that meeting I learned some things about the other candidates. Like the term good old boys club and who was in it. So since arrowsmith was the name that stuck out. I made it a point to go and see if this rumor was true. Because if it were it would have effected my vote for him. There were some boys my age waiving signs and I walked over and said why this Bankson guy? Well, after strongly expressing my opinions on the things in the city that I thought needed improvement, the boy told me his dad was running and that his plan was listed here on the website etc. so I said I’d like to meet him. He phoned him and I went over to Errol estates where Bankson stood under a green tent. I walked up introduced myself and explained why I thought the budget was not being used in the best intrest of the city. I have to be honest I’m not from here and when I moved here I spent a majority of my time in long wood and our surrounding cities. I purchased my home here from a doctor of the family, whose children had grown up and he no longer needed 6 bedrooms. I have three beautiful daughters and we could fill the space well. Not to mention my son Bama he’s my Rottweiler that thinks he’s a chiwawau. Anyways, so I loved the neighborhood and the closeness but yet a good distance away from everything. But as the months passed I noticed huge pieces of cement lying around downtown, sidewalks choppy or not there at all. I looked downtown and couldn’t believe the conditions of the buildings and how these business owners had to deal with the parking lot issues . Why weren’t they fixing the appearance and why wouldn’t they restore the buildings to make them look nicer? I also really liked the downtown area as a prospect for my boutique. I thought how wonderful would it be to have like a girls day out and have a downtown experience. I wanted to make that a reality. I thought we should change it and make it look nicer. So I made an offer. It was declined. It was a good offer. To continue, I left the idea alone and while being consumed with work and family life. I left it alone. Well, while talking with Bankson about the budget he explained what he wanted to do. In the process a sweet little lady walked up and asked me to sign a petition for her. I was like who is she ? Thuy Lowe was the lady. She explained how she was running for congress etc. and what she was going to do. Simultaneously, a lady approaches me and says walk over and I’ll tell you about my husband. I said ok. After, I finished speaking with Thuy and saying bye to Bankson. I met Arrowsmiths wife. Another lady was next to her. Her name was Alice Nolan. I expressed my concerns about the comments, I had heard about the “good old boys group,” and how he owned certain properties across the tracks. She says he doesn’t own those properties. I was like because if he does why haven’t y’all fixed them up? Some of those homes especially the ones rented out need fixing. She grew upset and stated, ” we don’t own those properties.” I stated I wanted to meet Arrowsmith she phoned him and told me where he was. I drove over to the church and found a older gentleman in a pop out chair. I asked him about the things I had just learned and if he was that man? The man part of the “good ole boys?” Etc. anyways he said no and told me about himself and why he was running again. Conversation was cut short and I had to run towards my area to vote. So undecided and frustrated on who’s word to trust. I chose to vote for Bankson and Arrowsmith. Because of the conversations, I had with them made me feel comfortable. Shortly after by the grace of God. There was a revote. I was actually excited. Because I wanted to learn who the candidates were and voice some of the issues and hear their feedback. I like to know the candidates before voting. Asking a question and speaking to someone one on one is still the best way to learn people.

  4. Still trying to figure out this very strange event, that was held so quickly, and the real purpose. I am also reading some of Ms. Bilbray’s comments on Apopka Voice Facebook, where she is responding to different people, but this one comment stood out to me. She said, “The John Land Trust is a donation from Apopka. It counts as Church.” What? I wish she would explain what she meant by that. John Land Trust was not intended to be a church. I heard two different reasons it was created. One was for contributing money to worthy causes of the community, whatever they might be. Two, I also heard that there would be monies given for scholarships, to worthy students in our community. I never heard anything regarding it counts as church, in the talk about the John Land Trust. I was there at the city council when the donation was approved. I considered it a lasting way to honor Mayor Land, who gave so much of his life and efforts to Apopka, and who by the way, was still living at that time of the vote, and don’t forget Mayor Land turned down his salary for years and years, except his insurance coverage, so do I resent the $ 200,000 taxpayer’s seed money to start the trust? The answer is no, not at all! But it is not a church!!!! A non-profit yes, a church, no.

    • Hey that’s just a saying. Like when you donate to a church. Is what this is like. Whether right or wrong. The issue should have been made apparent at that time. The city donated to the organization that was actually renamed to John land trust after the donation.

  5. So I hope Ms. Bilbray will respond. I could be wrong, but I hope she will explain the, “it counts as Church” statement, about the JLT.

    • The money is not controlled by tax payers and the money can be used for whatever that organization sees fit. Unfortunately.

  6. Mama Mia is on a roll today. Mama Mia can’t leave it alone. When something’s out of the blue, and everything is rosy, when talking local government, and election campaigns, it = a red flag! Something’s fishy, something’s up! LOL!

    • Sorry you see a red flag. I just wanted my questions answered and to understand the candidates better. You could meet with the candidates and ask your own questions at any time.

  7. Ms. Bilbray, you managed to keep four of the Apopka Council Candidates there, and interrogated them for a whopping 3 hours, with no time limits, OMG, wow, that is incredible! How did you do that? You must know important people in high places, or have special talents! Did you inform the candidates that their question session might go on for a long, long time into the night? Did you tell them to bring their pillows and nap sacks? You just dreamed this up on fluke, on a day or two’s notice? I noticed that you stated on Apopka Voice’s Facebook, that Bankson, Becker, and Ruth care about Apopka, and their answers showed it. Why did you exclude Young Kim? I was told he lives in RSR, but don’t know, if he does or not. Did you conclude that he doesn’t care about Apopka? Or did his lawyer training prevent you from pinning him down on certain questions? LOL!

    • Young was there to voice the concerns for the business owners downtown. Young lik was not asked the question. He’s a very sweet man I’m sure he does care about RSGolfcourse.

    • Also next time please ask questions it’s much more beneficial for everyone involved instead of throwing out accusations. I have respect for everyone who was involved and anyone I meet. It’s not nice to put divides in Apopka. Let’s unite and understand one another. Please feel free to contact me personally.

  8. I am not concerned at all about the John Land Trust. Really. Some people are, but not me. I am not concerned one bit about the bookkeeping, and what they spend the money on, or who donates to it, or whatever. The parking lot downtown in Apopka is fixing to get some renovations, and repaving. There were some complex issues that had to be worked out, in order to get the parking lot repaved. It will happen. The downtown will improve. Don’t worry. You say that you made an offer, Mary, and was declined. What did you make an offer for, if you care to share?

    • I wasn’t concerned about it till the day of the questioning. I received a call from Sam Ruth. He said heres something to look into. 200,000 dollars of tax payer money that was given to Richard Anderson. I was like wait what? Who’s Richard Anderson? And he explained I needed to look into it. Directing me to the channel 9 news report that now I know is a bogus article about Anderson and the trust. Obviously, the article was NOT WELL researched. I thought it credible but after digging further into council meetings and reading 501c3s and the way they work I found out it was a totally different situation. He wanted me to focus on Bankson being on the board and wanted me to ask him about it all. Ruth also said his son was paid $750.00 form the trust. And raised my curiosity of was the job offered to the public? Or was it just given and assigned. Now I know what happened because I spoke to Bankson about it. He created the website to help people understand the trust and to apply for funds of the people needed it. 750.00 is a good deal for a website. . But going into it I thought these guys are doing something wrong. He really did try hard to use me as a weapon against Bankson. I’m utterly disgusted by the information and the eyebrow raising about Anderson I had no idea who he was… He knew darn good and well why the contract was reinstated with Anderson and what the trust was. But this drives business away. It makes Apopka look like we have unstable politics. The channel 9 news report was bad light. Yet, channel 9 said they spoke to the mayor but they didn’t write his comments. Because had they maybe they would have grasped the understating of why he agreed to hire Anderson back. Because his severance pay was going to be paid to Anderson regardless. So he signed him on 2 year contract to consult and lobby. Also Sam Ruth told me he didn’t have a lobby license. Check that out Mary as he says . Looking further into this I learned he did no lobbying for the 15 months without a lic. Also he told me to look at Anderson double dipping. Etc. this is the problem. He’s the problem. Angered by a past issue. Of being fired by anderson a long time ago. He was trying to use me to fight his war. It’s low down.

      • I trusted him because of his position. Like he said I’m on the council I know what goes on. Does he? Placing those kinds of accusations out there? Makes Apopka look bad. And I love the city we can be better than this. Talking like that about our elected officials behind each other’s backs.

        • What about the people who don’t research it and takes his word is this what he is spreading? It’s frustrating when you trust and they mis guide and use you against others. To try and pull things from someone that’s not true in the end you look like the misinformed one.

  9. Thank you Mary for the invite, that was sweet of you, but I am not a people person. I ‘m anti-social, sorry. I am a lone wolf.. (howl, wooooowwwoooooo!!!!)

  10. Oh my. Yes, Mary I believe you probably do have a headache from all that stuff churning around in your brain. I recommend an old remedy, which is called a Goody Powder. I hope that will give you some relief from all the hear- say stuff, going around town. Goodys are good for me, if you don’t have some type of medical problem, that you can’t take them.

    • Lol thanks …. I am more of an let’s exercise when we are upset person. So I exercised and read . Then I relaxed and practiced volleyball with the girls yesterday. Play-doh with my almost 3 year old made complete sense.

  11. Yes, play-doh is wonderful to relax with! I love play-doh. There is another remedy called stand back, or “Stanback Powder”. I highly recommend it, too. Stand Back!, when the BS gets too thick! Also, a little shot or two of Goldschlager is a favorite of mine, and I can tolerate all kind of crud.

  12. I also relax and de-stress, by googling, “pitbulls with flower crowns” and go to images, and that makes me feel better about the world.

  13. Oh yeah, Mary, local campaign managers probably use “Stanback Powder” too, for relief. I have never seen “StepBack Powder,” but I assume “Stanback Powder” would work just as well for relief too, when the BS gets to be too much, and it becomes necessary to step back, or stand back.

  14. There is actually a kooky character on social media begging us to vote for “Uncle Sam” for the Apopka city run-off election for seat 3. Maybe Uncle Sam should pose with one of those bald eagles on top of his head like Trump did for the magazine cover. Maybe the bird of prey center would help Uncle Sam out, and let him get a photo shoot with an eagle on top of his head. That is if he is not a scaredy cat!!!

  15. I wonder how long the small flags with Colonel Sanders on them, will last before someone snatches them away? There is a whole bunch of them stuck in the ground lining both sides up the drive-thru entrance at the KFC in Apopka. Viva Colonel Sanders!

  16. I don’t suppose it would be right to run a few church buses around with the pastor’s campaign banners on the side. No, someone like Tenita Reid might show-off about that, for sure. Oh well, just a thought………..

  17. Mayor John Land parked an old farm wagon loaded down with hay bales, and his campaign signs downtown one time near City Hall, when he was up for re-election. Do you all remember that?

  18. What happened to the long campaign banner with Pastor Bankson’s photo on it, that was attached on the wooden fence along Park Avenue, near the Circle K, but across from the store? I miss it. It was on private property. What happened to it?

  19. Just look at that poor young Mayor of Debary, Florida…… The poor man is going to be sued by his own city for something about public records, and financial stuff. Is it any wonder that Mayor Cliff Johnson made a homemade raft, and is planning on a possible one-way trip to Cuba??? This local political stuff is getting beyond ridiculous.

  20. Sammy’s latest video with the Seminole Wind music is sooooo much better than the other one I viewed. Better music, more to look at. I liked it! I did notice one tiny little thing, however. When you showed the council members in the video, you didn’t show Commissioner Velasquez! Why? Is this why some people keep saying there is a “new” good ol’ boy’s club?

  21. Commissioner Arrowsmith is going to need a semi truck to gather all of his big signs after the election is over. That is a load of work!

  22. Mr. Kim, a defeated Apopka City Council candidate is calling for Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Bill Cowles to resign, because of the election glitch that happened March 15, that caused ballot shortages in Apopka. Mr. Kim is Republican, Mr. Cowles is a Democrat. Also the other five candidates who ran for the Apopka Council, on March 15, too, were also Republicans in the “non partisan” race, and continue to run for the run-off, for April 12, 2016 election for Apopka City Council. Go figure. Maybe they need “non-partisan” races for supervisor of election positions. Young, I like you, but give the guy a break, it wasn’t a life and death matter, everybody makes mistakes, and I mean everybody! You were not that close to winning it all, and I don’t say that to be mean, but it is a fact. Florida can’t get any elections right anyway, like it or not, so this is a normal part of living in Florida. I grumbled and commented myself, but even I wouldn’t ask for the man’s resignation, even if he was a Republican. I would give the man a chance to correct matters. Stand back, Young Kim!

  23. All together now, one for all, and all for one, I am preparing for the surge of disgruntled voters and disgruntled candidates……..bring it!

  24. It is funny that when the Apopka City Council candidates campaign at Welch and Rock Springs Road, most of them, and sometimes all of them, show up and cover all four corners. They must have ESP to know when the others are heading to the intersection to campaign.

  25. On channel 9, they had a news story about over at Windermere where there is a golf course and homes. The owner is losing money on the golf course, and now wants to build homes on the existing golf course land. 95 homes! Many of the golf course residents are fighting it and are saying that it was suppose to remain “green space” and that it is in the code. Now the issue is going to the Orange County Commission, and they are going to determine whether to grant the development rights to build, back to the owner, or not! Looks like it is in the county’s hands.

  26. Log on to Channel 9 news Orlando and there is the golf course story with the video. The reporters said the situation may set a precedent. It looks like a very nice golf course. The owner was shutting it down, even though the county has not given him permission yet to build the 95 homes he wants to build on the golf course.

  27. I meant to say, “maybe we need to have partisan races for supervisor of election positions.” In the posting on April 5, 2016 at 10:45 am. in the above posting. Also, I should have pointed out that only 4 candidates continued on in the run-off election. I made a boo boo. Sorry.

  28. Go to the Orange County Supervisor of Election website, and look at the bio info about Supervisor Bill Cowles. He is VERY qualified to handle that job. Look at the other stuff he does. Give the man a break! Obviously something went haywire, but my goodness, give the man a break. That is all I am saying, cut him some slack, he said he would get things right in the election process next time.

  29. Commissioner Arrowsmith must have ordered additional signs. They look different. They have what looks like little arrows around the borders, nice! Commissioner Arrowsmith, you should order some signs with a bull’s eye target and some arrows, next time you order, then you can re-purpose them as backdrop targets for future turkey shoots. Just a thought!

  30. I was kidding Commissioner Arrowsmith about the targets for the turkey shoots, I think you play golf instead go to turkey shoots. I may be wrong about you playing golf, but most Errol residents are into golf, so I think you golf. Commissioner Arrowsmith does have a catchy last name. I hear that voters like catchy names when they vote. Also I heard that they like the first name on a ballot, so that would be Commissioner Arrowsmith for seat 4. Now which last name is the catchy one for seat 3? Is it Bankson or Ruth? I don’t know. Which one comes first on the ballot, well that would be Bankson. Looks like a toss up there, based on those facts, then there is the incumbent advantage in both seats too. This is hard. I give up on trying to figure who will land seat 3. You all don’t get mad, now. Sorry Kyle. This is strictly unscientific speculation.

  31. It is almost time to play bingo! Apopka City Council Candidate bingo, and it is Cover 4 bingo, specifically. Time for them all to appear, and cover all four corners of Welch and RS Road. Calling for B-SW, B-NE, A-NW, R-SE……!!! Honk!! Time for candidate bingo, on the Friday evening before the run-off election in Apopka!

  32. I am a big fan of watching the you tube videos of Carpentersville, Illinois village trustee board meetings. If you haven’t viewed any of the Village of Carpentersville, Illinois government meetings you really owe it to yourself to view some of them, if you like that sort of thing. Watch you tube, “Most Outrageous Government Meeting Ever”. The only reason I found some of these videos were because they came up off to the side of our city council meetings when you listen to the audios. Check them out if you haven’t seen any of them!

  33. A pair of big sandcranes out grazing in the grass this morning on Rock Springs Road in front of Family Dollar. They were digging down in the ant beds! They must of been eating the larvae of the ants. Nice.

  34. Reference: Miami Times News——–Governor Rick Scott’s wife, Ann, the first lady of Florida, read some racy stuff to two classes of fifth graders. Stuff about prostitutes, winos, junkies, drug addicts, panhandlers, muggers, and god forbid, junk food places! Also, massage parlors, porno shops, and motels, plus read racy bad words to the kids! Are you smarter than a fifth grader? LOL!

  35. Mama Mia is upset she didn’t know Chuck O’Neal was coming by the Chuck Wagon in Apopka. Mama Mia is a fan of Mr. O’ Neal, and is going to vote for him for Senate district 11, because he cares about the black bears, and Florida! About time someone stepped up, instead of back, when it comes OUR Florida natural resources.

  36. What if the city leased the golf course from the owner, if both parties agreed? Could it possibly work, and not go in the hole? Just speculating, not starting any rumors or anything like that, okay, just thinking about solutions to problems. Nothing more, don’t freak.

  37. Did you find the above article, that I referenced, about Ann Scott, the governor of Florida’s wife reading bad stuff to 5th graders that I posted above on April 9th, 2016, at 8:57 pm? If you didn’t, it was because I gave you the wrong reference. The correct reference, to check out the complete story is: Miami New Times, is the correct source, and the article was on April 8, 2016. I am sorry, if I sent you on a goose chase. My mistake. It was not Miami Times News, as I made a boo-boo.

  38. Chuck O’Neal who is running for senate district 11 is the man who fought the bear hunts. He plans on taking on some of the top members of the FWC who have disregarded the majority of Florida citizens who did not want black bears slaughtered, and refused to stop the hunt. Someone needs to keep the FWC top members in line, and stop the brutal bear hunt. Vote for Chuck O’Neal on Aug. 30, 2016. Thanks.

  39. This is the last day of campaigning, finally! That is, unless you count the last minute campaigning at the poll tomorrow. I wish you all the best, and may the best men win, whoever they may be! I will still come to the swearing in ceremony, no matter who wins, and I will accept whoever wins. Good luck to all. See you all at the poll tomorrow at the VFW! God forbid, if they run out of ballots. LOL!

  40. Is it true what one man reported, that he heard on a newscast, that the city contracted for sign removal? Was that for other sign removal, or campaign sign removal? Some people took it to mean campaign sign removal, which is the candidate’s responsibility. Which is it, other signs, campaign signs, or both? Does anybody know? Please say, so people will not be mistaken about sign removal. Thanks.

  41. The campaign award goes out to————-the pastor’s wife! She has worked soooo hard for her husband, and has been soooo dedicated to getting him elected. She sure loves her husband, and stands by him. I think that is wonderful. So I’m going to give her the most dedicated campaigner in Apopka award! Congratulations!

  42. Google Apopka corvus. com, and look at the visioning drafts. There are plans for different quadrants of the city. In the preliminary vision plan in the light blue section it called for ———-swan boat rentals!! Alright now, those are fun! Don’t know if they are still being considered. That would be fun. Why not? I don’t think they are allowed by law, to be put in re-use storm water ponds, not sure. So where would they be put? Dream Lake maybe? Lake Apopka? Whew, not sure about Lake Apopka.


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