Mayor Joe Kilsheimer laid out his administration's accomplishments and vision for the future in a 35-minute, 5,000-word State of the City address Monday morning. He touched on several issues including business in Apopka, municipal government, public safety, city finances, grants, economic development, The City Center, The Highland Manor, growth, education, and even the environment. The Apopka Voice is taking a comprehensive look at each section of the speech, with the City Commissioners thoughts being the theme for part four.
Part Four: The Commissioners weigh-in
In a strong-mayor form of government, the mayor sets the agenda. Typically it is his vision that drives a city into the future, but in Apopka the strong-mayor form of government comes with four partners in decision making - the city commissioners. Partners might be one description, checks and balances might be another.
With that in mind it is important to know the thoughts and opinions of the Apopka City Commissioners as it relates to the State of the City address. The Apopka Voice talked to all four of them, and their opinions were diverse.
Commissioner Doug Bankson was encouraged by the forward movement and potential of Apopka.
"I'm excited about the future opportunities we have here in Apopka," he said. "We are at the perfect time in our history to see many positive changes while keeping and building on our heritage and hometown feel. The economic opportunities to bring needed jobs will be a tide that raises all ships through both personal income and revenue to the local economy. I'm very excited about the fire department bringing to Apopka the Firefighters Challenge national competition. Our firefighters did so well winning nationally, and it was their idea to "bring it home" which will give us another way to show how great Apopka is. All in all there is a synergy growing that has unlimited potential if we move forward together. Uniting our community organizations, HOA's, schools, and churches and working together to serve the citizens of Apopka is the key to success.
Commissioner Kyle Becker was also optimistic of Apopka's future, but stressed the need for improvement and growth in leadership.
"Like many Apopka residents, I had work commitments that prevented my attendance for the address, but was very pleased to see the Mayor deliver this type of message to the residents of Apopka. I think a State of the City address is critical to ensure residents of our city are aware of progress, and where focus is needed for future action. I agree with the Mayor’s message that the state of our city is strong, but it is incumbent upon us as leaders to ensure we improve and grow stronger every day."
Vice Mayor and Commissioner Billie Dean gave Kilsheimer high marks for delivery, but hoped for new ideas in the speech.
"I thought it was presented well. He did his homework, and I don't want to sound negative, but he didn't bring out anything new in his speech. Everything he said we already knew. There was nothing exciting. We've been talking about the splash pad for months, and the (Florida) hospital was done before he took office. So I thought he did a good job, but I was hoping to hear something I didn't already know."
Commissioner Diane Velazquez was perhaps the most excited about Kilsheimer's address. She noted the inclusive nature of the message, as well a focus on public safety, growth and jobs.
"In Monday's State of the City address, the mayor highlighted the accomplishments completed in the last two years of his administration, and he also addressed the future developments the city will undertake as it continues to grow and prosper. The mayor gave credit to the city council and the city staff for their hard work in helping and keeping the city’s interest as their main priority. The message was clear and to the point, but most importantly, I believe it was inclusive delivering a wide range of subjects that our residents, business people, and visitors are all interested and concerned with. It’s my belief that the visioning study was instrumental in helping the city’s administration decide on how to prioritize the direction and what route the city administration will take as it continues to consider and undertakes the needs of our community. Monday's address emphasized public safety, growth, and jobs - three very important concerns the community cares about. I think it was clear that these subjects are and will be paramount now and in the future.
Tomorrow: Education, Economy and a final analysis of the State of the City address.
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