244 voters cast ballots in Straw Poll

Political candidates from around Central Florida converged last night at The Apopka VFW Community Center to take part in the Political Hob Nob sponsored by The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce. They shook hands, handed out business cards, and talked to attendees in an informal setting.

There were 25 candidates and more than 350 business leaders, community members, would-be voters, politicians and their staffs in attendance.

“On behalf of the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce, I would like to thank our sponsors, candidates, and the Apopka community who participated in last night’s 2018 Apopka Area Hob Nob & Straw Poll,” said Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce President Robert Agrusa. “The 2018 Apopka Area Hob Nob & Straw Poll was one of the most successful Hob Nobs in recent history, with over 350 people in attendance!

By utilizing a more effective, powerful, and attractive platform, we were able to bring together a diverse group of candidates running for local, statewide, and national offices, all in one dynamic event. The feedback from the community was fantastic and we are grateful to each of the candidates and their willingness to share their valuable time with us. Ultimately, I believe the 2018 Apopka Area Hob Nob and Straw Poll achieved our primary objective of informing and bringing awareness to our community, about the candidates and the issues that will be on the ballot this fall.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate each of the winners of the Straw Poll and the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to continuing to our mission of serving the economic development, prosperity, and sustainability of our community and region through connectivity, leadership, education, and support.”

The Hob Nob format is essentially a trade show for politicians… allowing attendees to engage one-on-one with the candidates and business exhibitors. There were no formal speeches, forums or debates, but there was a straw poll taken with the winners announced at the end of the evening.

244 ballots were cast for 19 different political contests, 13 constitutional amendments, and one school board question.

Two Byrds win on one ballot

Perhaps the two contests that will most effect Apopka residents are the Orange County Commission District #2, and Orange County Public School Board District #7 races, which were won by a pair of Byrds.

In the District #2 race, Apopka resident and first-time candidate Mark Byrd defeated former Commissioner Fred Brummer, current Orange County School Board member Christine Moore, and Patricia Rumph. Byrd received 104 votes, outdistancing Brummer (45 votes), Moore (45 votes), and Rumph (20 votes) to claim the Straw Poll victory.

In the District #7 race, Apopka resident Melissa Byrd trounced her three opponents with 130 votes (70%), to easily defeat Eric Schwalbach (25 votes), Jeffery Lynn Richardson (16 votes), and Chan-Denise Budhoo (14 votes).

Despite sharing a last name, Mark and Melissa Byrd are not related.

Other noteworthy results were:

United States Senate:

  • Rick Scott 149 votes
  • Bill Nelson 92

US Representative District 10:

  • Val Demings 119
  • Wade Darius 68

Florida Governor:

  • Adam H. Putnam 97
  • Ron DeSantis 46
  • Gwen Graham 31
  • Philip Levine 21
  • Andrew Gillum 18
  • Chris King 13
  • Jeff Greene 6

State Representative District 31:

  • Jennifer Sullivan 138
  • Debra A. Kaplan 66

Orange County Sheriff:

  • John W. MIna 128
  • Jose “Joe” Lopez 68
  • Darryl B. Shepard 18

Orange County Mayor:

  • Jerry L. Demings 85
  • Pete Clarke 73
  • Rob Panepinto 72

School Board Chair:

  • Melissa Mitchell Byrd 130
  • Eric Schwalbach 25
  • Jeffery Lynn Richardson 16
  • Chan-Denise Budhoo 14

Soil and Water Group #4:

  • Derek Ryan 101
  • Dawn C. Curtis 55

For all the results, go here.



  1. Interesting. I will have to look up the state representative, that is running against Jennifer Sullivan, to see if that is the person that I remember around here, with that name. If that is who I think she is, I will vote for her.

  2. Yes, Debra Kaplan is the person I remember who used to cover the City of Apopka council meetings as a reporter, back when she worked for our local newspaper. Debra, good luck to you on your run for state representative, and I will definitely vote for you!


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