By Greg Jackson
Many people are afraid of conflict or see conflict as the precursor of a battle or war that will destroy things beyond repair. I, on the other hand, believe that there are some positive outcomes with conflict and view it as a necessary element of life to show contrast and differences that can actually make situations or people better. Conflict also forces or allows (depending on how you see it), people to equip themselves for a pending showdown with an imposing figure or situation by having them to rally their troops (supporters), formulate their strategies, identify their own strengths and weaknesses, etc., to produce the best overall outcome. Most times, conflicts are between two or more people, groups, societies or countries. There are times when we have conflicts with ideas, policies, rules, or sports (Go ‘Noles). But then, there are those rare painful moments that we have conflicts within ourselves or our own families.
My great aunt, Susie Brown Smith, who lived to be 100 years old, would oftentimes have to bestow her wisdom on our family when we found ourselves in the midst of an internal family feud. To help us to understand that conflict amongst family was not only common, but even expected, Aunt Sue would tell us: “Even teeth and cheek fall out with each other, and the sun competes with the moon, but at the end of it all they need each other.” This, oddly enough are the words of wisdom that I would like to offer Apopkans as the race for mayor of the city starts to heat up.
With any competition, people pick their sides and they find reasons to be at odds with their opponents. The same is true with political campaigns. With the two candidates for Mayor, Joe Kilsheimer, and Commissioner Bryan Nelson, I have said before that we have two of the most formidable campaigners and politicians Apopka has ever seen. In addition, both Nelson and Kilsheimer have staunch supporters and surrogates who are working very hard to help get their respective candidate elected. With this campaign, as with others before it, there will be differences in opinion about how to move Apopka forward, to create opportunities for residents and businesses, as well as to secure a meaningful future for the generations of Apopkans who will follow; hence, the conflict.
In the midst of finding reasons to support or not support either Kilsheimer or Nelson, one thing that must not be lost is that from this political conflict Apopka must still be able to emerge intact and able to move forward, albeit cautiously at first, together. The things that are important to one candidate is equally important to the other, however, the path to get there may be different. Because I know Nelson and Kilsheimer I can tell you that they both care deeply for Apopka and want to address issues related to economic development, crime, growth, etc., to put the city in the best position over the next decade and beyond. I can also tell you that their approaches to get these things accomplished have many similarities, as well as differences. It is this internal conflict that I believe Apopka can emerge stronger and better prepared to handle the growth and opportunities headed its way. I believe that citizens will become more involved and vocal, and will rise up to monitor, and if necessary call out the Mayor. This interaction and awareness of citizens of Apopka, which will directly correlate with the campaign conflicts will make Apopka a better place because those residents and others will feel they have a voice that can bring about change.
The Apopka Mayor’s race I truly believe will highlight the conflict within the city related to transparency, community redevelopment, economic growth, natural resources, etc., but it is this conflict that I believe a stronger Apopka will emerge. Because, after all, to paraphrase my wise, old Aunt Sue: Apopkans may disagree with each other from time to time, and Apopkans may not see eye-to-eye always, but they understand that in order to have a brighter future for the next generation they must work together no matter who serves as the Mayor — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.