Apopka City Hall

By Denise Badger-Connell, Publisher

Standing in front of the empty dais at the Apopka City Council Chamber, Commissioner Kyle Becker (Seat 4) begins his own ceremony by speaking to the camera, welcoming the viewers at home to his swearing in ceremony. With a smile on his face and looking undaunted by the unusual, he introduces his Pastor standing with him, John Fisher from the Apopka United Methodist church.

There’s no mayor with opening remarks. No fellow commissioners seated behind him. No audience cheering him on. Even his wife, Kelly, and their three daughters remain at home “Like everybody is doing, in the interest of safety and making sure we stay healthy so we can get past this”, Becker explains to the camera after.

Becker places his left hand on his grandmother’s Bible, the same Bible he swore his first oath of office on four years ago. His right hand raises, and Pastor Fisher begins.

Pastor John Fisher, United Methodist Church in Apopka, and Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker (Seat 4) at Oath of Office Ceremony April 28, 2020

“Kyle, if you’ll repeat after me: I, Kyle Becker, do solemnly swear…”

“…I will well and faithfully perform the duties of commissioner…”

“…So help me God…”

One minute, 14 seconds later the ceremony is over.

There’s “Congratulations” from his Pastor… an elbow bump together and laughter… and then it’s back to Becker, alone again in front of the dais.

Despite the empty chamber and rolling camera, he’s relaxed as he shares his thanks and appreciation to his family, volunteers, and to the city for the honor and privilege to get to serve them again.

And then he shifts to talk about the Apopka economy.

“My focus the first term, and will be in the second, is economic development,” Becker shares. “We’re seeing some of the impacts that COVID has had on our local economy…by extension… our global economy. So our focus on economic development, making sure that we do all… in a responsible manner… is super critical for us to thrive post COVID, and really for future generations to come.”

There’s a technical issue with the sound during these remarks, but listening closely you can hear him share about being fact-based and its importance in making good, sound policy for the city. The sound picks up at the very end, just loud enough to hear him thank Apopka for taking the time to watch him being sworn in.

“I am so honored to be able to serve my fellow residents here in Apopka as Commissioner of Seat 4,” Becker said later. “I would have liked to share the day with family and those friends, volunteers, and campaign supporters who helped me win re-election to a second term, but we are living in a very unique time in our city’s and world’s history, and health and safety come first. We have some serious challenges ahead of us, and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and applying my approach as a fact-based, analytical thinker to get us through our post-COVID environment, and set us up for success over the next four years.”

Being elected for a second term to the City of Apopka Commission is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal given the city’s recent trend of voting-out incumbents.

But on March 17, Apopka made it clear they wanted to keep Commissioners Becker and Doug Bankson. They mailed in ballots, lined up to vote, and 60-plus percent checked the box for them to return for four more years. They gave the coveted green light to both incumbents to continue representing them and shaping the direction of their city. That’s a big big deal. One that would usually call for grand and public celebrations. Together.

Except in the time of COVID-19.

The City of Apopka’s second Oath of Office live stream opens with Commissioner Bankson (Seat 3) standing with his son.

The scene is the same bare setting, empty dais behind them. But like Becker before him, Bankson has an upbeat spirit, with an energy that is felt even through the camera.

“This is a real special date.” Bankson begins. “I’ve really loved serving the citizens of this city for the past four years and I’m excited to continue to do that. We are facing some challenging times but we are facing them together, and I really believe as we emerge from this, and we do it with wisdom and caution, we can also do it with confidence. I believe God’s hand is blessing us.”

He continues then with his own opening prayer, before introducing his son, Ben, next to him, “a pastor with me at the church [Victory Church]…my other hat I wear”. His father, who he indicates is there in the audience, swore him in four years ago, but he asks his son to do it this time.

And with that, his hand goes on the Bible, the other one raises, and Ben begins,

Pastor Ben Bankson, Victory Church in Apopka, and Apopka City Commissioner Doug Bankson (Seat 3) at Oath of Office Ceremony April 28, 2020

“Repeat after me. I, Douglas Michael Bankson, do solemnly swear…”

“…I will well and faithfully perform the duties of commissioner…”

“…So help me God…”

The camera doesn’t pan to anyone else in the chamber, but after his swearing in Bankson thanks and introduces his family in a way that feels like you see each one. There’s his 101 “year’s young” grandmother, his wife, Jeri, his father and his wife, daughter, son and his wife, little grand baby, and son Joe, “running things behind the scenes”.

Family and togetherness are the theme he extends in talking about the city.

“It’s just been a great pleasure to be together, and as my family is gathered here, in another sense we are a family [motioning to viewers through the camera], and I believe as we continue to work together… there’s challenges… there’s differences of opinion… but as we bring those together in that civil way, we can come together in a way that can move our city forward.”

Later Bankson shared, “It’s an honor to be chosen by the people to serve, and I look forward to working together for the citizens of Apopka. Today we had five generations of our family present for my swearing in ceremony, and it reminds me of who I am serving, families from young to old. It is my purpose of heart to do the very best I can to serve all our citizens, and to face these challenging times with both caution and confidence. We are Apopka!”

April 28, 2020 will go down in Apopka’s history and be long remembered, not simply because these two broke the eight year, vote-out-the-incumbent streak, nor because it was the first Oath of Office Ceremony to take place via live-stream, without the mayor, fellow commissioners, or an audience full of citizens gathered together to celebrate in the council chambers.

April 28, 2020 will go down in Apopka’s history because it was a day Apopka triumphed over COVID-19.

When all else seemed cancelled, shut down, and teetering on survival, vision for Apopka prevailed. The vote of the people prevailed. Hope in what comes next, when COVID-19 is defeated, prevailed.

Hope in a better economy.

Hope in being “family”.

Hope in knowing how to pivot and stay the course, responsibly, with facts, civility and confidence.

Hope in a thriving Apopka today and tomorrow.

And hope in choosing what it can and will look like to keep doing hope, together. 

April 28, 2020 will go down in Apopka’s history because Apopka, from citizen to commissioner, knows how to keep going. Despite the obstacles. Despite the challenges. Heads up, hearts open, and cameras rolling, Apopka keeps walking forward, one great step at a time.

To watch Commissioner Becker’s swearing-in service, click here

To watch Commissioner Bankson’s swearing-in service, click here

7 COMMENTS

  1. So that was why Kyle didn’ t seem to get his talk in. I thought the invisible powers that be were trying to silence him from the back of the room….lol

  2. Do you know how bored I am?…..I will tell you….Every night I watch “The Big Show” which is our three green frogs that hang out on our glass sliding door, and I leave our curtains open, and our dining room lights on to attract the small moths and the frogs sit there in a battle royale to see which one can catch them and eat them the fastest. They are fast! Free entertainment, lol

  3. If you need some hand sanitizer alcohol to make your own sanitizer, and can’t find rubbing alcohol, or in the right percentage to be strong enough to kill virus and germs then Ollie’s at Eustis has a whole bunch of what looks like booze bottles, the standard liquor size, a fifth, I’m guessing, and it is from a Penn. distillery and is made for that purpose as a hand sanitizer. It has a warning not to drink it…lol…and has a message on the bottle that it is made with the formula recommened by the World Health Organization WHO. It is a complete hand sanitizer just like it is. It has glycerine, purified water, and hydrogen peroxide and 80 percent alcohol. I mixed mine with aloe vera gel that I bought that was just like Banana Boat brand. I went ahead and bought two liquor bottles. They were $9.99 each, but to me, worth it, and that will last a long time for me. My aloe plant first version sanitizer I made was icky. This is very nice and the proper gel constituency. I would give Ollies a call before you drive to Eustis, to make sure they still have some. I bought mine today.

  4. RSR Publix is getting crazier and crazier with all their directions, entrance and exits, and is getting really ridiculous inside the store. I stopped in at the Sorrento Publix on 44, and they didn’t have any of that BS out there. Target, both at Altamonte and Mt. Dora was truly wonderful to shop at, while the Altamonte Walmart was the worst! I entered at the garden center, shopped around looking and didn’t see what I wanted, and had already exited the garden center, and had one foot almost on the sidewalk, and the store guy made me go back into the store and by all those people, around the front registers and out the front. A lady counted me on a laptop, and then she stopped another customer coming in, and put her down on the laptop. This crap has to stop! Jerry Demings and De Santis need to stop this crazy crap! People are tired of this directional crap that is not helping stop the virus! They are making people mad, and if they keep it up, there will be no tourists, and no business!

  5. What happened to the VFW covid-19 antibody testing, that I read about on social media? I was ready to go and get tested, but it wasn’t set up. What happened with the testing at that site?

  6. Very arrogant of VP Pence refusing to wear his mask at the Mayo Clinic and CDC, wasn’t it? Showing no respect for others! And he heads that covid-19 task force that Trump appointed him to lead. Just plain wrong.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here