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Becker leaves Apopka a better place than he found it


Commissioner Kyle Becker's term ended quietly at the April 17th Apopka City Council meeting. Becker, who resigned before the meeting after selling his primary residence, was not in attendance. Despite his absence, Becker's legacy and accomplishments while on the Council were present.


I first met Becker in 2016 at the Apopka Business Incubator for a one-hour interview. The first-time candidate was running for the Apopka City Commission against 39-year incumbent Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith. I didn't give Becker much chance to win the seat, but I was impressed with his knowledge of city affairs. 

Here is the lead I wrote for that feature:

Kyle Becker is an action figure. He is a verb in a world full of nouns. Most politicians want to sit at a table, discuss differences, and hear their constituent's viewpoints and dreams for the future. Becker would rather act.

"We need to get past the noise and get to the root of the problem," he said. "I want to get something done."

Becker survived the general election and beat Arrowsmith in the runoff just over eight years ago. His biggest challenge in the 2016 campaign seemed to be separating himself from the label of a rubber stamp for the administration.

"Strategically, I would align with the Mayor (Joe Kilsheimer) and with Sam (Commissioner Ruth)," he said in the interview. "Tactically, I may not. I'm running on my own merits. There will be times when I disagree, and I'll vote accordingly. Are there going to be tactical differences? Absolutely. And I want to have a healthy debate. Not a political debate. I think friction sharpens the point. I don't see how it's a negative to say there would be alignment on the Council. But I think for myself. And there will be times when I vote with the majority, but I have no fear of casting a no vote."

During his eight years in office, Becker's actions on the Council made it clear that he was a free-thinking, independent member who was never a rubber stamp for anyone.

The role of the city commissioner is not designed for accomplishments or implementing a vision. In Apopka's form of government, the mayor's agenda is the one that the Council generally advises and votes on.  However, Becker's analysis and research were often effective. His full-throated and informed opinions often made a difference in post-presentation talks. Becker found ways, through those presentations and discussions, to lay out his initiatives, many of which became successful votes.

Here are a few over the years:

Parking Ordinance 

Early in his first term, Becker recommended that the City reconvene a committee to explore the parking ordinance. 

"There were many issues that residents were dealing with at the time in terms of how people were avoiding tickets, and it was becoming problematic," Becker said. 

Becker led the charge to reconvene the committee that made practical, common-sense changes to the parking ordinance.

Land Development Code

The Apopka Land Development Code contains regulations for the property's development and uses, including zoning, subdivisions, and other related land use activities. Apopka had not revised its LDC since the '90s. 

Becker spearheaded many of those revisions, including a specific meaning to multi-use.

"I felt like I was the most engaged in changes, tweaks, and updates to the land development code we passed," he said in an interview with The Apopka Voice. "And there were certain things in there that I fought to have changed to make sure the Apopka area remained what we want it to be. I fought to have the kind of straight, small-lot residential zoning classifications eliminated from that code... and made sure that when we talk mixed-use, it truly meant that a developer couldn't do a straight residential play. We wanted to make sure that we preserve the idea of what mixed-use is all about. We have residential, commercial, retail, all within those same classifications."

Red Light Cameras

Although Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson not only ran for office on eliminating the Red Light Camera Program (RLC) and was mayor when the program ended, it was Becker who, in the previous administration, made the case against it.

"I was the original dissenting vote against the RLC when we looked at extending the contract with the provider at the time," he said. "That was a very fact-based decision-making process. I evaluated the RLC program in terms of whether it was meeting its stated objective. And with the data presented, I concluded that it was not. I laid the groundwork to understand why we could do away with that RLC program."

In 2017, Becker took on the mayor and police chief's support for the RLC program and voted in a 3-2 minority against its renewal.

Dollar Stores

In 2021, Becker gave a presentation to the City Council about the dangers of too many dollar stores in Apopka. His research on them led to a unanimous vote [at City Council] for a moratorium and later an ordinance not allowing new dollar stores to open within two miles of an existing one.

Economic Development Director/Department

"I think there is value in making it a part of what the City offers. I think other cities have adopted that and embraced this idea of economic committees or departments, which has served them well. What things cost is really not as important as the value of what you're getting. So if your return is higher than what you are investing in, then there's value in doing it."

Becker said that to me in 2016 during that first interview. He kept on talking about it until he made it a reality. 

It was most likely his greatest achievement for Apopka. Throughout the process, he did not waiver, and when he finally had the votes, it took a year for the administration to hire a director. However, Becker leaves knowing that the economic development department is part of his legacy.

"We could pretty much call that the Becker Development Department," said Commissioner Nick Nesta. "He truly endeavored for years and years and years and finally accomplished that, which I was very happy to see him do prior to him leaving."

Nesta went on about Becker in his closing remarks during City Council Reports. 

"I just want to say congratulations to Commissioner Becker," he said. "He's moving on and is working towards some really great endeavors. It's exciting to see him grow and change and his family just prosper. I want to thank him for his service to the City. What he's shown us has been absolutely incredible, and it will not go unnoticed. And his legacy is going to truly live on here for a very, very long time."

Commissioner Alexander Smith also congratulated Becker for his time in office.

"I would just like to say congratulations to Commissioner Becker for his service," he said. "We wish him the best in whatever endeavor he's going to do."

Commissioner Diane Velazquez, who succeeds Becker as Apopka Vice Mayor, also wished her colleague well.

"He has been a big asset here, and we all learned something from him, but he will be missed," she said. "We all wish him and his family well. I'm sorry that he didn't come to the last meeting, but you know, it was his choice. He did the right thing. He closed on his home and was no longer a resident of our city. So congratulations and all the best in his new endeavors. I also want to say thank you to all the residents and all the texts and telephone calls for congratulating me on taking the position that he held very proudly as Vice Mayor because he was actually the second person to text me and just say congratulations. So it's an honor and a privilege."

Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson did not comment about Becker during the meeting but did praise him in 2022 when Becker left Seat #4.

"You've challenged us. You've made us better. You've made a difference here in Apopka, and I hope we've not seen you for the last time."

Two years ago, I agreed with Nelson on all four of those statements, and I still do.

Becker was a generational leader. People with his skill set usually skip municipal politics and aim for a fast track to a CEO role in a Fortune 500 company or a higher office. 

It's difficult for commissioners to push back on City department heads and staff members during their presentations to the Council when they seem to possess comprehensive details and strong recommendations afterward. But Becker challenged staff, department heads, three different city attorneys, three different city administrators, and two mayors if their assessments did not convince him.

Becker brought knowledge of city affairs to the Council that was equal to that of many city managers. 

Edward Bok (of the Bok Tower and Gardens in Lake Wales fame) was quoted as saying this: 

"Wherever your lives may be cast, make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."

We at The Apopka Voice wish Commissioner Kyle Becker and his family the best as he begins the next chapter in his life. Your time on the Council was confounding to some but inspirational and visionary to many others, including me.

You left Apopka better than you found it, to say the very least.

Apopka City Commissioner Kyle Becker, Apopka City Council, Opinion, Apopka, Economic Development Department, When is the next Apopka City Council meeting?


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  • MamaMia

    Adios amigo.....Becker didn't care about Apopka, as he thought he was better than everybody here. His "legacy" is no legacy, at all. Good riddance......

    Friday, April 19 Report this

  • MDuran

    Becker was an amazing commissioner that cared deeply for Apopka, its citizens and employees. He has set a very high standard of leadership and dedication. Kyle Becker’s name and legacy will live on for many generations to come. He will be truly missed by all that are educated and aware of Apopka’s business and willing to actually do something about it. From the entire Duran family, thank you sir for all that you have accomplished.

    Friday, April 19 Report this

  • MamaMia

    Yes, I heard Vice Mayor/Commissioner Diane Velazquez, saying her farewells to Becker, and calling him a big asset to Apopka.....well, leave the last two letters off of the word "asset, Commissioner Velazquez, and that would be a very accurate description of Becker...... LOL....and that's my educated opinion!

    Friday, April 19 Report this