25 people who might run for office in Apopka
Part Two: Apopka City Commission Seat #1
Note – Within hours of each other last week, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson announced their candidacies for the Apopka Mayoral election, which is approximately one year away.
And with those two high-profile announcements, the Apopka political season officially began.
For the next four days, The Apopka Voice will analyze four 2018 election contests that will most catch the attention of the community – Apopka Mayor, Apopka City Commission (seats #1 and #2), and the Orange County Commission (Seat #2). TAV will reach out to the 25 people we believe might run for those four offices, and confirm if they are going to be a candidate or sit this election cycle out.
Today we focus on the race for Apopka City Commission Seat #1
Gene Knight and Pastor Alexander Smith announce their bids for Seat #1
Commissioner Billie Dean is the lion of Apopka politics.
He is the longest standing member of the City Council, first elected 23 years ago. He succeeded the iconic Alonzo Williams, who was the first black commissioner in Apopka. Dean is a retired educator that has lived in the Apopka community for more than 35 years. He is married to Isadora Dean and has five children and three grandchildren. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, served in the Korean War, and received a Bronze Star for valor.
Dean is brash, outspoken, and the champion of South Apopka, but will he run for a sixth term?
Dean told The Apopka Voice that he is undecided as to whether he will defend Seat #1 in 2018. And if Dean does not run, it could open the floodgates of candidates for the open seat.
Two candidates have already announced their intention to run for Seat #1 – Gene Knight and Pastor Alexander Smith.
Knight is the founder of the local social media site Apopka Then and Now. He announced his candidacy on Facebook today.
“I take great pride in announcing that I am running for Apopka City Commissioner, Seat One. I believe that no one knows the city like its citizens and that the city council needs fresh voices that will have time and concern for everyone. I want to be that voice for ALL Apopka.”
Knight also announced his campaign kickoff will be Wednesday, March 29th at 6PM at Porkies BBQ in Apopka.
Smith is the Associate Pastor at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Apopka, and a community activist. He is a graduate of Apopka High School, and Florida A&M University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education with a minor in Horticultural Science. He is also a graduate of Apopka’s Citizens Police Academy, and a Certified Horticultural Professional by the State of Florida.
Smith’s passion is helping youth succeed. He was a teacher in the Orange County Public School system for over 40 years before his retirement. Now he is the leader of a ministry at New Hope that tutors children, helps them with SAT preparation, and counsels them on college opportunities.
“I’ve lived in Apopka since 1965. I’ve watched Apopka grow, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of its growth. After educating children for 40 years, I want to continue my service to the community through elected office.”
Other potential candidates are not ready to commit to a run for office, but are not ruling it out either.
Former Commissioner Sam Ruth lost his seat in 2016, but many believe he may run again in 2018. Ruth did not take that possibility off the table in his statement.
“2018 is a long time and a lot can happen,” he said. “I’ve been asked from people if I’m going to run and my answer is, we will see what the future brings. If it’s good for Apopka, it’s good for me.”