Opinion/Analysis

By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice

Doug Bankson and Kyle Becker have a lot in common.

Apopka City Commissioner Doug Bankson

Both began their political careers in 2016. Both survived a general election that year against incumbent opponents, and both won their runoffs to become first-time commissioners.

Then on Tuesday, Bankson and Becker became the first incumbent commissioners in 10 years to defend their seats against challengers.

Bankson claimed 4,393 votes (60%), outdistancing challenger Leroy Bell, who received 2,917 votes (40%). It was a larger margin than Bankson’s runoff victory over then-incumbent Sam Ruth in 2016, when he received 2,707 votes (55.5%).

Commissioners Kyle Becker (left) and Doug Bankson (right) will be returning to the Apopka City Commission after decisive victories on Tuesday night.

“With all that is going on in the nation right now I am truly grateful for those who came out in support and cast  your vote, and I will do my best to serve the citizens of Apopka,” Bankson said. “I am so thankful to our entire team of faithful volunteers who did such an amazing job, and all those who gave so generously to help us across the finish line. I am extremely grateful for my family, our congregation, and for all those who have prayed for us. Special thanks to my campaign manager and son for coordinating everything so well. I want to thank my wonderful wife who is simply amazing and the real wind beneath my wings, and of course I want to thank the Lord who is my strength and put it in my heart to serve. I ask for His wisdom most of all. Now it’s time that we all come together and support each other through the challenges ahead, and I know we will show everyone how amazing the people of Apopka really are. Let us have faith and not fear, unity and not division, and may we protect and value every life. I thank God that I live in Apopka, and I am truly optimistic that we will pull together and pull through whatever is ahead. The election is over and it’s time to become one voice of freedom and brotherly love. Apopka, let’s keep moving forward together!”

Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker

Becker experienced a slightly better outcome than Bankson, 4,472 votes (62%), to challenger Lorena Potter’s 2,772 votes (38%). He also outperformed his 2016 showing, when he defeated 40-year incumbent Bill Arrowsmith with 2,689 votes (55%).

“First, I would like to thank Lorena Potter and her supporters for a competitive and civil campaign,” said Becker. “I know how much hard work and long hours go into running a campaign like this, and she should be commended for it. I am so grateful to my fellow Apopka voters, and the confidence they have in me to be their representative voice on our city’s Council.  I have taken great pride in being a prepared and practical leader and feel so privileged to serve a second term as Commissioner of Seat 4.  There are many family, friends, and campaign supporters to thank for helping me on this path, but the most important are those that cast a vote, and use that vote as their voice for what they want Apopka to be.  I will continue to fight for their best interests, and all of Apopka.”

Potter posted on her Facebook page, “Congratulations to Kyle Becker on his retention of Apopka City Council Seat 4. Many thanks to all of the friends, family and volunteers who supported me throughout my campaign. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed getting out in the community and meeting so many people. Although I will not be a Commissioner, I still plan to stay actively engaged in community affairs.” Potter reached out to Becker and congratulated him on the phone, offering her support and sharing that she would be happy to be a resource to him and help anyway she can. She said there has never been any animosity between them, and they are “all good”.

So what’s my point, you may ask. Two candidates start their careers the same year, and then win two straight elections. How is that so unusual?

Well, here’s two more logs to throw onto the Bankson-Becker fire…

In 2018, the city council needed a vice mayor to succeed Billie Dean, who retired after 24 years in office. According to the Apopka Charter, the commissioner with the most seniority becomes the vice mayor.

But in this case, Bankson and Becker were tied with two years apiece, so it was decided by a coin flip by newly-minted Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson. Becker called “tails”, it was heads.

Bankson wins by a coin toss.

The flip of a coin is one thing, but what about comparing their track records in their last three elections?

I’m glad you asked…

Bankson received 2,707 votes in the 2016 general election, 3,900 votes in the 2016 runoff, and 4,393 in the 2020 general election for a total of 11,000 votes.

Becker received 2,689 votes in the 2016 general election, 3,639 votes in the 2016 runoff, and 4,472 votes in the 2020 general election for a total of 10,800 votes.

A razor-thin margin of 200 votes from 21,800 votes cast!

The next municipal elections in Apopka are in 2022 when Seats #1 and #2 on the city commission will be up for grabs. Commissioners Alexander H. Smith (Seat #1), and Alice Nolan (Seat #2) are the incumbents. Mayor Bryan Nelson will also be up for re-election in 2022.

Bankson and Becker will be off the ballot in the next election cycle… or at least they will not be defending Seats #3 and #4. But do not be shocked to see these two commissioners square off one day with more than a coin toss at stake.

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