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With 100% of precincts reporting and Early Voting ballots completed, The Apopka Voice is declaring winners and reporting the numbers as of 9:30pm Tuesday night, August 18, 2020.

Tonight’s local Primary Election results in Orange County were memorable, and that alone is a remarkable statement.

Typically, primaries are low turnout snore-fests that do little more than solidify the party establishment’s favorite in route to the general election. But today we saw a few surprises that went well beyond the primary colors most are used to seeing. And these candidates can definitely be proud of the races they have run.

Property Appraiser

To kick it off, Democratic candidate Amy Mercado (D) surprises all with an indisputable Primary Election win for Property Appraiser of Orange County! Apopka knew how to pick a winner. She won the Apopka Chamber of Commerce Hob Nob Straw Poll with 60%, and now the primary with 65,068 votes (59.68%). Rick Singh, also a Democrat and the incumbent, loses his seat, but held onto second place with 34,505 votes (31.65%), and Democrat Khalid Muneer held his own, snagging 9,448 votes 8.676%. Mercado (D) will now face off with write-in candidates S.Scott Boyd (WIC) and Tim Loucks (WIC) on General Election Day, November 3.

“I am thankful to all the voters of Orange County who believed in this team,” said Mercado. “Together we can do anything.”

School Board Member, District 7

Congratulations go to Melissa M. Byrd of Apopka, our current, and now re-elected Orange County Public School Board Member, District 7. She sailed through the Primary as the expected favorite, winning 16,732 votes, and over 56% of the vote. She has landed square in the seat again for four more years! Newcomers Ericka Bell at 7,476 votes (25%) and Jeannetta Maxena with 5,335 votes (18%) followed with respectable showings. While the strength of the people’s vote is clearly behind Byrd, her get-it-done ability and passion winning the day, it is doubtful this is the last we’ll see of either Bell or Maxena with their desire for making a difference wherever they are.

“I am so thrilled to continue my work fighting for my community and the children of District 7,” said Byrd. “It has been the joy of my life to serve the children of District 7 for two years and I can’t wait to do it for the next four!”

And while Maxena came in third tonight, she had some thoughts as well (edited for length): “My mission is to make a difference in my community no matter the results of the election and I plan to do so. We have a lot of work to do in District 7 like improve the area’s low-performing schools so every child has the opportunity to quality education. I am fighting for a change in our community and I hope people join me in the pursuit for equity. “


Orange County Sheriff John Mina (D), a Democrat, trounced his four other Democratic opponents with 59,925 votes and at 54.78%. Following Mina were second place winner, Andrew Darling, with 16,083 votes at 14.7%, and close behind him Jose “Joe” Lopez with 15,313 votes and 14%. Darryl B. Sheppard came in fourth place with 9,475 votes (8.66%), and Eric L. McIntyre closed at 8,593 votes (7.86%). Sheriff Mina (D) will go to the November 3 election feeling confident facing Write-in Candidate Tim Lucas Adams (WIC).

“Friends – We did it!” said Mina.I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who volunteered your time, made a donation, shared a social media post, put out a yard sign or cast a vote for me. Because of our amazing team of supporters, we celebrate this victory tonight.

Now that we have made it through the Democratic Primary, we are headed to the General Election on November 3rd! We will continue working hard these next few months to get out the vote and ensure I am re-elected as your Orange County Sheriff.

Thank you for trusting me with both the responsibility and honor of continuing to protect Orange County. While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, there’s more work to do.”

County Commission, District 1

Nicole Wilson of Gotha, FL wins the Orange County Commission District 1 election with 23,342 votes, landing her at almost 57%. Her opponents were our own Betsy VanderLey of Apopka with a respectable second place of 17,485 votes and 42.6%, and Hanna C. Burns of Winter Garden a distant third with 178 votes and 0.43%


Every year the Supervisor of Elections staff is required to test the voting machines that will count the votes of Orange County voters for 2020 at 248 precincts across Central Florida for 14 unique races between the primary and general election in November. This test is required by a Florida Statute (101.5612, section 3 and 4).

The statute requires that a small sample of voting equipment and all vote-by-mail equipment be publicly tested using a group of ballot cards marked, or voted, with a pre-audited pattern. The pattern must include a pre-determined number of valid votes for each candidate and each measure. Each group of ballots must include a blank (unmarked) as well as an over-voted ballot.

Typically Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles has a staff of 46 full-time employees, but during the election season, it swells to almost 250. He says his staff is ready for any issue, but he will still “pray the election supervisor prayer”: “We don’t care who wins, we just want them to win big.”

And now…76 days and counting.


  1. I used to know pretty much all of the Orange County Commissioners, but I don’t anymore, other than our Commissioner Moore. Everything is changing fast, and I mean everything! That district 1 in Orange County, reading the above article, surprised me when I read about the Apopka lady, Betsy Vanderley, running for district 1. I thought Apopka was district 7. Guess I just don’t get it. I know that lady was not on my ballot.

  2. I still think those write-in candidates are trying to pull off a fast one. Example: the sheriff race. Mina won, and then there were the others behind with a good many votes, but still behind Mina, and yet they got more votes than the write-in candidate, but yet the write-in goes on to the general election ballot against Mina, and the second place, third place, fourth place, and so on, do not appear again on the general ballot, when the write-in does appear again, against Mina on the Nov. ballot. Does not seem fair!

  3. Apparently those mud-slinging fliers sent out through the mail WORK, from those sometime secret groups. Big money to blow! Never a dull moment. Covid, tornadoes, elections, back- to- school arguing, DNC conventions, Trump signing his name on everything, rockets going up constantly, comets flying through the night time sky, and now i got to look out for yet another possible hurricane or tropical storm. Could even be two of them!

  4. Apopka City Council meeting tonight on you tube was certainly interesting. The unnamed author of the letter written complaining about all kinds of things to the city council, an APD officer, showed up and stood at the podium, and spoke and gave his name and address. Listen, I heard the proposal to try to pacify him, and his money lust, and I would not give any of them or him, anything extra, during this pandemic that has destroyed city budgets. Goose egg, zero. I would save that proposed extra one percent to general employees, and the two percent to the public safety employees, for the legal fees that are going to be costing the city because of the APD already filing of union petitions, that will cost approx. $20,000 dollars, and I believe those raises talked about and proposed by Commissioner Becker were going to cost an extra $614,000. Time to just say NO! Quit coddling the police department, and stopping downing the general employees! Glad that one guy stood up for the general employees who always seem to get looked down upon.

  5. That APD officer that spoke seems to want to control the city’s funds for the sole purpose of giving raises to the APD. He knit-picked about the city property up for sale for 1.2 million, and demanded where that money was going. He previously begrudged the city paving the parking lot downtown, and that is different, that is CRA money, that people in that district have collectively paid in on taxes to benefit the area, but HE WANTS IT ALL! Commissioner Smith did a nice respectful talk with him, and the officer used the word “respectfully” as a disclaimer, then insulted the commissioner by calling him a “politician who gives false promises”, but Commissioner Smith shot back and told him that he is not a politician, but is a public servant, and doesn’t give false promises…..very good! I would have liked to come and see the action, but the public is not really welcome any more because of the covid. Stand your ground, commissioners, stand your ground, LOL


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