Decision Apopka 2018


By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2018 that were the most noteworthy events of the year. The Apopka Voice will publish them starting today and running until Sunday, December 30th. On December 31st and January 1st, we will publish a poll and let the readers decide on which story is the most impactful of the year.

Originally published on April 11th, 2018.

Diane Velazquez ran a good runoff campaign. After a narrow loss to challenger Alice Nolan in the March 13th general election, the incumbent Apopka City Commissioner for Seat #2 got up from the political mat, dusted herself off, and made all the right moves and said all the right things. She attended nearly every event in the Apopka community. She made statements on social media making it clear she could work well with Mayor-Elect Bryan Nelson. She made an impassioned closing statement to approximately 400 Errol residents at a special City Council meeting that drew big applause. She did the things a candidate does to rebound from a disappointing result and return a month later ready to compete again.

Apopka City Commissioner Diane Velazquez

But in the end, the handwriting was on the wall.

This runoff, like the general election results, was a mandate. In many ways, it mirrored the mayoral election in which Nelson defeated Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer with 63.4% of the votes.

Nolan rode the momentum of her narrow victory the previous month to defeat Velazquez in the runoff election and claim a spot on the City Council. But this time with no other candidates in the Seat #2 field, the results were far more one-sided

Nolan received 1,702 votes (58.95%), compared to Velazquez with 1,185 (41.05%). Although it was less than half the votes cast in the record-breaking general election only a month ago, the 2,889 voters that did cast a ballot spoke with the same voice as the 6,493 voters on March 13th.

Commissioner-Elect Alice Nolan

Despite the lowest turnout in an Apopka municipal election since 2012, the message was clear that they wanted to change course, and they wanted to give Nelson a City Council that would support his approach.

Nolan, the 29-year-old sixth-generation Apopka resident that joined the Seat #2 City Commission race during the last week of qualifying, was humbled by the thought of representing the city as a commissioner.

“I first want to thank everyone who came out to vote, who supported their candidate by volunteering or donating. And I want to thank every family member for their patience and understanding during this campaign. It is an honor and great responsibility to serve my hometown, and to help bring everyone together to work for a future for generations to come. I look forward to working with the citizens to bring positive changes, working together as a community, and dedicate our time to grow Apopka while keeping true to our history. I thank Diane for her service to our community and the words of encouragement she said to me as we transition. Again, thank you Apopka for giving me the opportunity to work for you. Apopka, Let’s Work Together.”

Velazquez described the moment she congratulated Nolan.

“At 7 pm, at the Northwest Recreation Complex Voting Precinct, I walked over to congratulate the newly elected commissioner Alice Nolan. We talked and hugged. I wish Ms. Nolan success in her new journey serving our city. Thank you to all the voters who participated in this election cycle.”

Later in response to a post on social media, Velazquez described the highlights of her term in office.

“These past four years have been a journey I could never have imagined. I loved what I was doing. The best part of it was going out into the community, into the schools, attending church services, supporting all the local events, patronizing our local businesses, welcoming new ones, and getting to know the families and everyone who called Apopka their home. My life has been enriched by this experience, serving the City of Apopka. With the newly elected Mayor Bryan Nelson and two newly-elected Commissioners Smith and Nolan, I wish them success, as they are now charged with serving the Apopka residents for the next four years. It was with a heart full of love and dedication that I served. Thank you, Apopka.”

Showing grace under pressure and adversity is not a quality that can be taught. It is not a political tactic that can be employed when the time calls for it. It has to come from within. Throughout her term, Velazquez has always displayed this grace.

Thank you, Commissioner Velazquez, for your lifetime of public service to the residents of New York City, and especially to the residents of Apopka. Your time in office will not be forgotten.

And congratulations to Commissioner-Elect Nolan. You ran a positive, energy-filled campaign and Apopka looks forward to your service on the City Council.


  1. I want to thank the truly nice people around Apopka here, who ACTUALLY tried to help me with my problem of a lost dog running around our street, and out in the road in traffic, and to try to find the owner of the dog. I have signs posted around our neighborhood on poles, for the owner to contact me, to claim their dog. Some people have called me, and have called back and forth, one nice lady even offered to foster the dog today, when she called me, but unfortunately, the beautiful big dog barked excessively during the nights, and I had a neighbor come to my house, not once, but twice, to complain about the dog barking all night, after we tried to explain. I would have kept this dog, believe me, until the owner claimed it, if they ever did, but we were forced to take the dog to Orange County Animal Services, and I had already took the dog, and turned it in, when a lady offered to foster her, until the owner is found, when I returned home. So if you have lost a dog, be sure and check their website daily, or GO THERE! The dog did not have a micro-chip, I found out after taking it to our vet. The lady at the vet, said take it to Pet Alliance, or ASPCA, which is a no-kill shelter, according to the vet employee. It is located right across from Orange County Animal Services, so we did, across from the mall on Conroy Road in Orlando. Pet Alliance receiving said legally they could not accept the dog, because it was not our own dog, but instructed us to turn the dog in at Orange County Animal Services, right across the driveway, and they could legally accept it, and they keep the dog 7 days for the owner to claim the dog, then they will put her up for adoption. I did not have any option other than to take the dog there. I am very unhappy, and feel like a traitor, as the dog really liked us, as well as everybody! I bought her chews and a dog toy. She looked like a big police K9 attack dog, but sounded like a squeaky toy when she barked. A big baby, about a year old, with the most beautiful set of pearly white choppers. We were not going to turn her loose to get hit by a car, attacked by a pit bull around here, or abused. Life sucks! I have had other people call me, that have lost their dogs, and thought I had theirs. One lady in the Pines is looking for her little dog, and came by my house. Some said they are going to post notices for me, on websites I didn’t know about. I see the photo of the dog we took to OCAS today, on their website already. The best looking dog at the whole services! They really need to enforce the fireworks laws, as I think, most likely, the intense loud fireworks caused this dog to get away Christmas Eve night (certainly wasn’t sparklers)…..can’t say for certain how she got away. The OCAS website indicates she is already adopted, across her photo, but not for 7 days, I am certain….if you know anyone missing a dog, tell them to check the Orange County Animal Services website….please. They told us, the owner can get their dog back by showing proof that the dog is theirs, to claim. My husband is an animal lover, and was trying to do a good deed, putting her in our backyard kennel to protect her, and I didn’t want things to end like this, having to take the over- grown pup, to the pound. I swear, I feel guilty, but shouldn’t….what choice did we have? We drove her over, because it makes me sick to see animal control officers pick dogs up with those long poles and wire loops around their necks, to lift them up into the trucks, if they come to pick up an animal, and I said, “no way”……..By the way, on the OCAS website there is another dog named Mama Mia, but that is not her. So many pit bulls there, OMG. There was a photo of a little white dog, a poodle possibly, over at the shelter on the peg board, that was wearing a Christmas dress, and it was lost Christmas Eve, and is missing, and the owner is trying to find her. I can’t imagine the heartbreak. I saw the grounds where the animal control trucks are kept parked, and was stunned to see so many trucks. I never knew the Orange County Animal Services had that many animal control trucks!

  2. They gave her a rabies shot, and a nasal spray, which I believe might be a kennel cough preventative, not sure. They also must have given her a heartworm test later, as it states negative on the info about her. I had called her Cindy, but the shelter showed a name, they must have dreamed up too, with her info and photo….a great name for a K9 police type dog, I might add…..Justice.

  3. I have been looking at the different neighborhood Nextdoor websites, around this area, as to what I can view without having Facebook. I see my neighbor, for one, has posted about a lost German Shepard type dog, a female, found running around in the traffic near AHS. She stated she didn’t have a photo, as her neighbor (meaning me) had the dog. The dog wasn’t a German Shepard type, it WAS a German Shepard, no doubt, and a full blooded German Shepard female……..this is the dog, now at Orange County Animal Services, on Conroy Road, very near the mall in Orlando. She is on page 18 of the OCAS website, named “Justice”, go there to view her, a beauty, black and tan. That is not her actual name. I was told by staff they keep them 7 days, then they adopt them out. However, I read the info on their website, and it does state they keep them a minimum of 5 business days, so I want the owner, or others to be aware of that. Also, the website states they charge $15.00 return fee, plus a $10.00 fee for each day kept, to offset their boarding costs. I wasn’t informed that by the staff, when I turned her in, just that the owner could get their dog back, with proof that the dog is actually theirs…wanted to clear that up. Also adding to the confusion, Fox 35 local news, which I am sitting here watching, just showed a dog on tv, that looks like the one we took to OCAS. I actually thought for a minute, it was her, but now I don’t think so, as they indicated she is about 3 years old, but she is black and tan, and looks SO much like the dog we took over there. They are trying to adopt this one out, and they called her Molly. Her chest area looked a little more tan, and “Justice” the dog we took there, had a slightly different chest with a very slight tinge of a few white hairs on hers. Molly seemed to have more tan than Justice. Very similar however! They said Molly was available for adoption for $12.00 for the” thru December adoption special” the pound is promoting. We went all through the pound looking at the dogs, while there, and we didn’t see Molly that was on tv….. All I know is….if you are missing a black and tan, young, female German Shepard, please go there, or check out the pound for yourself on their website portal. I want the owner to locate their pet. I’m unhappy about this whole situation, and it is not fun to be unhappy on your own birthday……I spoke by phone to a lady in the Mt. Plymouth area last night, around Kelly Park, Angelica, whose German Shepard is missing, and I did see a picture of hers posted after talking to her, and No, it is not the one we had. Hers is a solid tan color all over, very beautiful too. I told her it wasn’t hers, after talking with her, after her description she gave, and later saw the photo of her dog posted. This entire weekend up to New Years is going to be blasted with big loud fireworks, and if you have pets, beware, they can escape even being caged, leashed, or in backyards, jumping or digging out, when they become terrified from the fireworks. I used to have a big German Shepard myself, and was over at Winter Garden on Lake Apopka, one 4th of July, and when the fireworks started, Sheba strong- armed away from me even though leashed, and headed for cover under a trailer at Trailer City, and my husband had to crawl under that trailer, and drag her out. I thought I could control her, but boy, was I wrong!

  4. The lost German Shepard in the above postings is now on page 15 of the Orange County Animal Services website. I assume the pages are updated, and the page numbers of a particular animal change frequently, as more animals arrive. Her photo is there to view, and her number is A420089, with the made-up name the shelter gave her of “Justice” and the other identifying number is WD24. She can still be claimed by the rightful owner! They show the word,” adopted” across her photo, but that is if the owner doesn’t come forth, to claim her, in the time they allot before she will be adopted. A woman expressed interest in her, while I was there. Don’t know if she was the one to put in an application to adopt her however, as it could be someone else that applied…. Please, please, tell everyone you know that is missing a pet ( a German Shepard dog, female, young, black and tan) to look at the OCAS website. She belongs to someone out there! She was turned in to the OCAS on Dec. 27, 2018 and they keep her a minimum of 5 business days before adopting her out.

  5. Again, my home phone number is (407) 886-5700, so call me. I want you, the rightful owner, to be reunited with your pet. This is all I can do, and I have tried to locate you out there, and not to turn the dog loose to get hit by a vehicle around here.

  6. The lost German Shepard, nicknamed Justice, has now been moved up to page 12, of the Orange County Animal Service website, under adoptable animals. She has two applicants to adopt her. If you think that she may be your lost pet, check with them VERY SOON, otherwise, someone else will probably adopt her, as the days are running out for them to keep her there. She is a sweet beauty but does bark to get attention when outside, and just wants to play, run, and rip, as she is still young.


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