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Candidates discuss Apopka business at Chamber Forum


The Apopka Chamber of Commerce hosted its Apopka City Council Candidate Forum this morning at the UCF Incubator. Ginger Gadsden of WKMG Local News 6 was the moderator.

The Forum was structured as a question and answer session for the three candidates with opening and closing statements.

Three candidates – Bill Arrowsmith (the incumbent and candidate for Seat #4), Doug Bankson (Seat #3 candidate), and Alice Nolan (Seat #3 candidate) participated. Three other candidates – Kyle Becker (Seat #4 candidate), Young Kim (Seat #4 candidate), and Sam Ruth (the incumbent and candidate for Seat #3) did not attend.

Bill Arrowsmith Bill Arrowsmith

For the past two weeks, the Chamber Forum took criticism on various Apopka based Facebook sites for charging a fee to attend the event and for its daytime scheduling of the Forum.

However Chamber President Laura Heiselman was pleased with the turnout and the goal of the event.

“The Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce was proud to host a City Council Candidate Forum this morning as part of our Quarterly Professional Development and Enrichment Seminar Series,” she said. “With a packed house, we feel we accomplished what we set out to do which was to provide an opportunity for area business leaders to engage with candidates about their strategies for economic development, smart growth, public-private partnerships and job creation in Apopka.”

The candidates discussed a wide range of business-related subjects such as the state of Apopka, their specific economic plans, and growth management.

Doug Bankson Doug Bankson

Arrowsmith pointed to his experience in his opening statement.

“I was first elected when I was 26. I have been in office 39 years, 20 years as Vice Mayor,” he said. “When I started, Apopka’s budget was $800,000, now it’s $90 million. I’ve been a community banker for 45 years. I’m well rounded and kind of know business I think.”

Nolan had a more casual approach to the forum and spoke of all that was right in Apopka. When asked what the three most pressing concerns are in Apopka, she struggled.

“It’s hard to find three things wrong with Apopka, and that’s a good thing,” she said. She did say that responsible eco-friendly growth and a divided community were

Alice Nolan Alice Nolan

concerns she would address as a City Commissioner.

Bankson spoke of the success of Apopka past, and its potential for the future.

“We have a great foundation,” he said. “Our predecessor (Mayor John Land) left us with that. But now we need to see the horizon…the future too.”

His ideas for expanding business in Apopka hinge on carefully managed growth.

“We need to work with the Chamber…bring in manufacturing and industrial businesses that don’t hurt the neighborhoods they are located in, and are not in competition with Main Street businesses,” he said. “Everyone loves growth, but at what cost? Not all growth is good. Sometimes we have growths removed. We can bring in great businesses without harming small business.”

Alice Nolan, Apopka Chamber of Commerce, Bill Arrowsmith, Candidate Forum, Doug Bankson


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