Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

From Staff Reports

It took a resignation, an election, and a runoff, but Diane Velazquez is returning to the Apopka City Commission. Velazquez defeated Yesenia Baron in the special election runoff for Seat #2 with 3,374 votes (58.36%) of the vote, exceeding Baron, who received 2,407 (58.36%).

Diane Velazquez
 “First, I want to acknowledge my opponent, Yesenia Baron, and thank her for a well-run race,” Velazquez posted on her Facebook page. “I am honored at the trust placed in me by Apopka’s voters to complete the remaining 15 months of the term left by the previous sitting commissioner. I could not have done this without the support of an army of volunteers and the Apopka Professional Firefighters Local 5293. I want to thank each and every person who donated, walked neighborhoods, and waved signs. Most importantly, I want to thank all the residents for coming out to vote in this important local election. I am ready to take my seat to represent you with professionalism, integrity and accessibility.”
Baron is hopeful for the future of her community and thankful for the outpouring of support she received.
“I’m grateful for so many things – to those who worked on my campaign, heralded my values, and voted for me at the polls…I cannot thank you enough,” Baron said. “This isn’t the end of my path; I’m dedicated to lifting my community and will continue to work hard for my neighbors.”
While running again is not off the table, Baron is continuing her advocacy and leadership
through other means for now, including participating in the Apopka Chamber of Commerce and Community Action Board.
Baron wished newly elected Commissioner Velazquez much luck and encouraged her to make positive changes to improve the lives of our residents, business owners and city personnel.

Despite a record-high turnout in the general election (over 24,000), only 5,781 voted in the runoff – with 4,509 of those voting by mail.

Alice Nolan, the Seat #2 Apopka City Commissioner, resigned from the City Council in August, which triggered the special election. Nolan defeated then-incumbent Velazquez in a 2018 runoff for Seat #2.

Yesenia “Jesi” Baron

In the general election, Velazquez received 10,318 votes, 42.6%, while Baron received 6,157 votes, 25.34%.

Tonight’s results were similar to the City Commission elections for Seats #3 and #4 in March. In those elections, Seat #3 Commissioner Doug Bankson claimed 4,393 votes (60%), while Seat #4 Commissioner Kyle Becker received 4,472 votes (62%).

Velazquez will have to defend her commission seat again in March of 2022 when the next cycle of Apopka municipal elections take place. Also on the ballot in 2022 will be the City Commission Seat #1 currently held by Commissioner Alexander H. Smith, and the Apopka Mayoral election – Bryan Nelson is the incumbent.


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