By Greg Jackson, Esq.
We all have that one friend or family member who will put together a desk, chair or other piece of furniture, paying little to no attention to the instructions provided. If you ask why they will tell you that “once you have seen one or put together one, you have seen all you need to see,” or something to that effect. But, oftentimes the finished product, if it survives the constant reconfigurations and adding of newly discovered screws or pieces from the pile of material dumped onto the floor, is relegated to a space in a corner because after the item’s construction is completed either it does not look like the photo on the box, is wobbly or is deemed useless.
Now, take that image and lay it over the evolving political environment in Apopka. Over the past several election cycles, political candidates have come into Apopka and without spending any meaningful time getting to know the needs of the City or getting to know the residents they have started putting together their thoughts and ideas of what Apopka needs or what will benefit the residents.
What many candidates for county, state and federal office fail to realize is that Apopka cannot be fit into a single box of ideas. Apopka, which is the second largest municipality in Orange County is situated north and south of 441. The city is rural, urban, agricultural, residential, industrial and commercial. Most candidates fail to realize that Apopka is a diverse population made up of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc., all of whom should have a voice in the direction of Apopka’s future. Most candidates ignore the fact that there are small business owners, unemployed persons, business executives, health care professionals, students, parents, etc., who call Apopka home and are stakeholders in the direction of this City. They ignore the diversity of Apopka and base their ideas of what's important to Apopkans on their own limited views of the world. Instead of focusing on ways to bring jobs to the community, they focus on violence.
Instead of identifying areas where community redevelopment dollars can strengthen Apopka's business corridor, they focus on pressuring others to support their own agenda. In short, most of these folks are seeking to build a better community based on their own concept of what Apopka needs and they have failed to assemble, literally or figuratively, the diverse voices and stakeholders from the community to determine what Apopka needs.
The 2018 election cycle will be here before we know it, and persons seeking your vote for public office will be back in Apopka trying to convince you that they know what is best for our City. There will be some new faces, as well as old faces, but, no matter who it is the question should be: will they have a true understanding of what is important to Apopka and how to move the vision of residents collectively forward? When the politicians come knocking for the 2018 election, ask them if they have read the proverbial instructions and know that some assembly (i.e., gathering of ideas from Apopkans) is required.
Greg Jackson is a past Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.
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