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Decision Apopka 2018

Unopposed no longer.

With just over three months to go before Election Day, two Apopka residents have filed to run against incumbent City Commissioner Diane Velazquez in the Seat #2 race – Leroy Bell and Alicia Koutsoulieris.

Velazquez welcomes her two opponents to the race, but says she will keep working for Apopka during the election cycle.

Apopka City Commissioner Diane Velazquez

“Earlier this year, at a city council meeting, I did state my intention to run for re-election and continue representing the residents of Apopka, the business community of Apopka, and all those associated with our great city. I just opened my official re-election campaign, but I will continue to work and serve my constituents without distracting the community in view of the recent occurrences of Hurricane Irma and Maria. These events did affect our city, and I realize that many of our residents and business people have been challenged. I will be here to help those in need, along with the administration and staff of the City of Apopka. I would like to comment as to having two opponents for Seat #2. For those that remember my last campaign’s main focus and primary platform, the theme was “inclusion.” This means that any person interested and willing to participate in matters that affect our community should be able to have an opportunity to do so. The slogan used in my last campaign, and will be continually used in this campaign is “City Government Matters.” This translates to, any person can get involved in local government and make a difference.”

Alicia Koutsoulieris

Koutsoulieris is a relative-unknown in Apopka politics, having never run for office, and only moving to Apopka two years ago. She has lived in Central Florida since she was five years old, and graduated from the University of Central Florida, holding a BA in Political Science (2009) and a BA in History (2010). She is presently pursuing a Masters Degree in Political Science.

Koutsoulieris is involved with many community organizations, with a number of volunteer leadership roles; including, The League of Women Voters, The American Red Cross – Mid-Florida Chapter, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Amnesty International, an International Delegate for Inter-faith Peace Builders, United Nations Association of Greater Orlando, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Central Florida.

“For years I’ve volunteered for many different organizations in different roles, said Koutsoulieris. “Now that my time as a student is coming to a close, I want to use the skills I’ve acquired to work in a new capacity within the community.”

Koutsoulieris believes she is best equipped to move Apopka forward into its future.

Leroy Bell

“At the City Council Meetings, I hear a lot about disconnect within the community.  Apopka is a smaller city when compared to neighboring Orlando. We should easily be able to move forward together and I want to be a part of that.  I would also encourage growth. With the new hospital and the new city center comes new opportunities most important, employment.  Bringing more jobs to Apopka will be a huge benefit to the community.”

 Bell is a military veteran, local activist, and Vice President of the Apopka Area Concerned Citizens Council. His campaign did not respond to an email on Monday from The Apopka Voice which asked for details on his campaign and his qualifications to serve on the Apopka City Commission.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Should I sing a beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” ??? Good, the more the merrier. Hallelujah, hallelujah, now I can’t get that song out of my mind….

  2. Does this mean, Reggie, that their will be another online poll here, on the Apopka Voice, to vote for Seat 2, Apopka City Commission? Bring it!

  3. Huh, I don’t remember Hurricane Maria affecting this area, like Commissioner Velazquez states….. At all. Only Puerto Rico, mainly……not Apopka. Oh, I might have seen a white sea gull flying over my house, so I guess it affected this area….right…lol

  4. I am very glad that we have people challenging these city commissioners and the mayor also, as we have a city council that has their minds already made up before they even take their seats at the city council meetings. They do not listen to their base of citizens they represent, they are arrogant, and the mayor sums up their votes ahead of time, before they vote, as in, he calls it like they have already voted, naming how many are for the motion on the table, and the mayor makes a second motion to a commissioner’s first motion, that the other commissioners don’t second, which should die on the table, and some people highly question if that is even proper procedure for him to second such a motion…..

  5. Get ready for a bunch of beer drinking establishments all over town. This town will be re-branded…..that is what they are seeking, a re-branding of this city. Forget the “Foliage Capital of the World”, we will soon be known as the “World of Suds”, as in beer, or “Suds City” or Welcome to Apopka…Come Have a Beer and Get Drunk With Us….booze sold at 7am in the restaurants, stores, bars, groceries, where ever…..and rush, rush, rush, to get this in, before New Year’s Eve for party time….get ready for extra drunks out on the roads!!! This is our current Apopka City Commission at work!!!

  6. Also allowing booze drinkers closer to your children and families at the parks, churches, schools, and government buildings…..plus the splash pad!!! Be sure and call your city commissioners and mayor and tell them what you think of their selfishness of wanting to promote and develop this city so much, that they would use this poor judgement as an excuse, that this is going to help our city and economically develop it….

  7. Today’s city council meeting confirmed to me, with no doubt in my mind, this council needs replacing ASAP. They that voted for this amended alcohol ordinance, putting drinking alcohol closer to churches, parks, government buildings, and schools, all lost my future votes, for what it is worth!!

  8. Also very distressing to hear about a training session for the Apopka Police that a person there used “colorful” questionable language, possibly racial profiling, which is alleged, but the big question is, if all these police were there, why didn’t someone speak out, and say this is wrong? I don’t know anything about it, but I heard it today discussed at the city council. Supposedly a letter was sent out, asking for an apology from the person using the language that was there to train the Apopka police.

  9. Let me tell you why I take exception to this “profiling”, whether it is racial or otherwise. I have never told this. But I am going to tell it now, because of what I heard about this training session at the Apopka Police…….

  10. My husband, myself, and my little dog go pretty much everywhere together that is possible. We don’t like to leave him at home because of break ins are getting frequent, and sometimes people take the homeowners pets or hurt them. So we take him with us as much as possible. One day a month or so ago, we went to Errol Winn-Dixie, and it was late in the evening, and was hot, and our air-condition does not work when sitting still running the motor and only for some reason works good when driving down the road. So I went in to Winn-Dixie, and my husband sat in the truck with our dog, and I said I won’t be long, just picking up a few items for supper……..

  11. When I came out of the doors of Winn-Dixie, my husband said, “You’re lucky I am still here”….and I said, “Why, did you get sick or something?” He said, “No, the Apopka cop, who was a female, drove up here by the front door, where I was standing with our dog, and she told me, “You have to go”!!! He said, “why”? And she said, “You have been panhandling”…you have to go!!!”…….

  12. It was so hot in the truck that my husband had got our little dog out put him on a leash, and had stood outside the front doors of the Winn-Dixe for no longer than about a minute or two. Then this Apopka cop woman flys up there by the door and accused my husband of panhandling, and she left and told him he better be gone when she comes back around…….

  13. My husband was very angry and he told her if my wife is still in the store I will be right here. If my wife comes out, I will be gone…….this Apopka female cop assumed my husband was panhandling when he only was getting out of the hot truck with our dog and waiting on me to come out of the grocery store. How would you like to be falsely accused? These Apopka cops need some better training, no doubt!…..now I hear disturbing allegations of profiling. It is not funny, I assure anyone accused of wrong doing that has done nothing wrong!

  14. My husband rarely gets riled up. But on this day, he was extremely mad at being falsely accused of panhandling, when he was only waiting there for me to come out. We drove to the Apopka Police Department and he told them about this incident. They never said they were sorry. I listened as he talked to the female officer’s supervisor, and believe you me, my husband told him, and another fellow officer, that he does not ever panhandle, and never asks anyone for anything, and that he has worked hard all his life for what he has. I am writing this so you people at the Apopka Police will know that you need to be more careful profiling or accusing people and not even asking them or discussing something before assuming someone is guilty!!!

  15. Thank you Fannie…….. It is all true, what I wrote about the Errol Winn-Dixie incident. It really is humiliating and embarrassing. We let it go, after going to the Apopka Police Department, and giving them a piece of his mind, but when I heard about this profiling training session gone bad in training the Apopka police, at today’s council meeting, that was discussed, I decided to tell about my husband’s incident, to let them know they need to be more careful accusing people, and need better training.

  16. So everyone will understand this first reading of amendments to the alcohol ordinance today, there will be no distance required between churches, parks, government buildings and city hall, from being right next to micro-breweries, or drinking establishments. NONE, NODDA, GOOSE EGG….no distance will be required to act as a buffer to the two very conflicting places! Translation: Children and families, worshippers, government proceedings right next to drunks!

  17. Schools will be closer to the beer drinking too, amended from 750 feet distance buffer, down to only 500 feet…… closer to your children in schools, day or night.

  18. Looks like Apopka is going to end up like downtown Orlando at night. We know how that is! The city slickers sitting on their “thrones” up there at city hall think they are going to attract these high and mighty yuppy types, with professional jobs, and big salaries to blow, yeah, that is what they think…… but in reality, here in this town, they going to get the local sleaze hanging around, is what they are gonna get!

  19. A good while back, there was this nice little restaurant on Park Av. right near the Apopka Post Office named Garden on the Park, I believe it was, if I remember correctly. They asked for a special exception to be allowed to have beer or wine or occasions at night around 7, or 8pm, something like that, to have a musical jam session with an invited guitarist, or other music, to have music and food along with a beer or wine for a couple of hours. They also had artwork of residents displayed on the walls…..but the ordinance did not allow it, as the restaurant was too close to Dream Lake Elementary School and also they were near Apopka Middle School. As they pointed out, this would only be at night around 7 or 8pm, when school was not there and open, and only on certain occasions, and they asked for a special exception. The city council flat out denied them, the special exception. Now the restaurant is long gone. Now the council has totally flipped flopped, and ANYTHING GOES, with worshippers and kids, right next to alcohol boozing it up!!!…..what is wrong with them, have they lost their minds??? They are not looking after the safety and welfare of our children and residents!

  20. They approved wine drinking at city hall also for an art event…….now these ridiculous amendments to the existing ordinance 2612!…..I guess next go round, when they make more amendments to the alcohol ordinance, we will have all night bottle clubs or drive thru alcohol brew-throughs. Get ready people…..I am seeing the direction this city is headed, and it is not good!

  21. Maybe they are fishing for campaign donations from alcohol- related businesses and people…. watch the campaign donation lists, and don’t be surprised if you see beer distributers listed as donors, to their campaigns….would not surprise me one bit, if they show up!

  22. We have got 4 different candidates with their last names starting with a K…..Kilsheimer, Kidd, Knight, and Koutsoulieris. That’s weird.

  23. The way our town is portrayed in the newspapers is like this has been a dry city ever since the 1920’s, talking about prohibition. It is so ridiculous. This town has had plenty of bars, in the past, and I am talking about the downtown area….they are gone now, from the old downtown area. These people writing these articles don’t live in this town….these reporters writing for the Orlando Sentinel…. They try to portray this city as hokey, it is ridiculous! At least, we don’t have the out- of- control problems of downtown Orlando’s nightlife, and all the tacky businesses that they have! At least, not just yet, but with the Apopka City Council, there are some gunning for such!

  24. One thing I am very glad of is that the Florida Legislation stopped municipalities in Florida from selling booze to make profits….good for them!… finally something rational out of Tallahassee! Guess that put a pin in their financial balloon in Apopka! Now time for them to outlaw red-light-rip-off-camera tickets!

  25. Double standards….telling youths to just say no to drugs and alcohol, and the police promoting MADD programs (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and having police random DUI stops at times throughout the city at times, and then passing amendments like these ridiculous amendments to ordinance 2612 today, at the first reading. If I had not of picked up the Orlando Sentinel, I would not of even knew they were doing this at the council today….sneaking it in when people were at work! Next 2nd reading and approval is Dec. 20th at the 7pm council meeting if you want to protest this alcohol ordinance. They want to “get ‘er done” approval before New Year’s Eve for party time ( to put even more drunks out on the roads) according to the Orlando Sentinel article in today’s newspaper!

  26. “Ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now, for me to sing my song…..Ah sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I’ve got one thing I’ve got to do…Ramble on ” (Led Zepplin)…. Barbarazilla, I GOT a life, and I plan on voting, as I am a CERTIFIED SUPER VOTER…. FYI…LOL

  27. They are going to assign each registered voter a place to go to vote in the city election…either the VFW or at NW Recreation Complex…..no trotting off to whichever location you want to go to, or that is the nearest, and no trotting off to vote at BOTH locations….ha ha. They discussed this at yesterday’s council meeting. It will be on audio when they post it online at Apopka.net under the meetings icon.

  28. We had stopped in at 7-11 at Errol on 441 at about 11:15 am this morning, and the next thing we knew, there was something big time going on with the cops as they were everywhere, swarming the Michigan Christmas tree lot, and back in there behind it, and around the Iberia Bank and all around the entrance to Lake Doe subdivision. County deputies, and city I think, unmarked and marked…coming in, from both directions….I counted 20 cop cars, they brought in a K-9 and his handler, ran with him behind the tree lot. An ambulance came from Plymouth direction, and the highway was shut down by the cops, in both directions. Someone said it was a thug that crashed a car into a tree and fled, others said it was the bank robbed or the tree lot robbed. Someone said there was gunfire…loads of people at 7-11 watching, and someone said they saw a guy put into a cop car, others said there were more suspects, we stood out there watching, and wasn’t sure what was going down, but it was a biggie with that many cops…. Some bad people around here all the time causing chaos!

  29. The subject of removing all buffer zones from alcohol establishments which will place beer joints right next to churches, parks, and government buildings, placing worshipers and children in very close bounds together with alcohol drinkers (drunks) and reducing the buffer zones from alcohol establishments and schools, might not be a touchy subject for Commissioner Becker to consider, but private tennis instructor fees, charged by the city, to a private tennis instructor making a private income on city property, sure is!

  30. I think it is a sad day when I sit there and listen to the Apopka City Council meeting, and listen to John Hitt, who is the Director of Community Development, talk about the downtown area of Apopka, and practically apologize for the churches there in the storefronts, and offer up explanations of why they are there…. they help pay the rent to the landlords, so they, meaning the landlords, won’t go bankrupt….yes, a sad day! Mr. Hitt should offer up an apology for the Mayor, Commissioner Becker, and Commissioner Velazquez, for voting for and pushing our city’s ordinance to allow beer drinking establishments and other alcohol establishments practically all over town, in order to fill in the downtown with business…..pretty pathetic, if you ask me.

  31. I wonder just how long it will be before we will see one of those tacky pedal- powered mobile bars, that people sit at and drink booze as they all pedal up the streets? I can envision it now, pedaling from Station St. down to 6th Street at the City Center……tacky!

  32. Yeah, just get on your bicycle and have a beer with you drinking it, and see where that will land you…..yet these pedal- powered mobile bars are okay?? Get ready Apopka!

  33. Those fishermen that are concerned about buying alcohol early in the mornings before going fishing….buy it the day before you go fishing! Keep drinking booze on the waterways, and you will get a DUI or DWI, one of those two, you are not immune…..

  34. Have you all listened to Cliff Shepard, the city attorney, talking about his knowledge of what he knows about the micro-breweries that he has experienced??? It is on the last city council meeting’s audio of Dec. 6, 2017…go to Apopka.net and click on the meetings, and agenda icon, and go to the audio icon of 12/6/2017….and hear it from the horse’s mouth ( so to speak)….he talks about the one, or two micro-breweries h and how they work, you purchase a wristband, and you go in, and can drink like 6, 7, or 8 beers….oh yeah! ……..!!!

  35. Picture that, and then getting in a vehicle to drive home, among this city’s traffic….near parks, churches, schools, etc……!!!

  36. Commissioner Becker believes that drinking adults are SUCH responsible people….just listen to him! Wonder why there are so many DUI arrests?

  37. I have sat at many council meetings, and I have heard Commissioner Velazquez speak about it is their duty, as commissioners on the city council, to represent resident’s safety. She has spoken about dark roads that need better lighting, entrances and exits, that need better and additional planning, into certain high traffic roadways, etc….and such as that. That is fine, that’s great, but then to sit there, and for her to vote FOR this ordinance 2612 amending the existing alcohol code, that was adopted back in 2014, I believe, and to allow drunks closer to worshipers, children, and daycare facilities, is UNBELIVABLE to me! I know she cares about children and loves them…so why Commissioner Velazquez…why??? I know you don’t appreciate me, but it is not about me, do it for the children, and vote this down on the second reading, if you do care about safety of residents, especially children! The existing ordinance, as is, will be fine left alone, there are places that micro- breweries can still come into this city, and build, and operate, don’t be deceived, Commissioner Velazquez!!

  38. Mayor Joe makes comments that certain items are “politically motivated”. Well, check the timing of this liquor law revision and tell me it’s not “politically motivated”. Of course the Coalition of Sorts approves the first reading. Typical of the past 3 1/2 years of whatever Mayor Joe proposes, wins by a 3 -2 vote. Check the record!

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