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Candidates for City Commission split on single member districts


In the south Apopka community, and particularly with the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, the issue of single member districts is an important topic. But has it risen to the level of an important campaign topic? Would the election of a candidate swing the balance on the City Council from “yes to no” or from “no to yes”? Are there voters who would vote for or against a candidate based on this issue alone?

Today The Apopka Voice talks to the challengers for Seats #3 and #4 of the Apopka City Commission. What are their views on single member districts? How would they handle this issue? Would they simply vote yes or no? Would they spearhead the issue forward, or would they work against it if they were sworn in as a City Commissioner this spring?

Doug Bankson is the Lead Pastor at Victory Church World Outreach and a candidate for the Apopka City Commission Seat #3. He was a member of the Apopka Charter Review Committee that met from November of 2013 until June of 2014 and studied this subject. That committee voted 7-0 against single member districts. His views on the subject have not changed.

"I support at-large representation for some of the same reasons others are for single member districts, and that's to have fair representation and support at the elected level," he said. "The difference is that size and distance effect how you can directly influence decision makers (example: national versus local have different dynamics due to proximity.) A smaller citizenry can go directly to all commissioners and persuade several votes, while single member districts may secure one, but eliminate others to fight for you over their own constituents. Therefore you can win the battle but lose the war. Orlando is five times larger than Apopka, and in that incident I would be for single member districts, but due to our size and ability to directly reach more elected officials, I would at this time support at-large representation."

Alice Nolan, also a candidate for Seat #3, is more open to the idea, but would want to slow the process down.

“Everyone seems to have very strong feelings for one side or the other,” she said “The advantages of having single member districts are ideal in that the representatives are held accountable for their actions, and I feel that when you have a smaller area to cover more people are willing to run for the position. I believe that it could empower citizens to be more involved in their community without feeling overwhelmed by having too many representatives. However, there are cons to this as well. You have to live in your district to run, which creates the question if there are no citizens in that district that decide to run, do they now not have representation? Another con is redistricting, which happens as the city continuously grows. It is not uncommon for a line to go through part of a neighborhood community. Now neighbors have different representatives. This can make it hard for a representative to truly represent an area. If the City of Apopka wants to implement this, I hope that they take a close look into the cons and find ways to make it work for our city. This subject is too much on everyone’s heart to move quickly on or to be hasty with.”

Nolan also added that if the single member district issue came to a vote while she was on the City Council, she would recommend to table it until everything could be worked out.

Young Kim, owner of All-American Furniture in Apopka and a candidate for Seat #4 is perhaps the most outspoken on the subject. He emailed this response to The Apopka Voice:

Our community has been segregated for generations between north and south Apopka. And also with the recent growth and new housing developments, Apopka has become such a large city with so many separate and distinct communities such as Rock Springs Ridge, Errol Estates, the Sheeler Community and etc. Splitting Apopka into 4 districts is the only way to accommodate the needs of these separate and unique communities.”

Kyle Becker, also a candidate for Seat #4, is against single member districts, but would listen to differing opinions with an open mind. He emailed The Apopka Voice this response:

“First, let me say that I have not had a chance to meet with the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance on this matter directly, but met a few of their members Monday at the event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and hope to formally meet with their Alliance in the coming weeks to hear their concerns and ideas."

"I currently support the structure of at-large seats as the basis of our City’s Council. The beauty of our election process is that any Apopka resident is able to step up and say ‘I represent the interests of Apopka’ without regard to what part of Apopka that candidate may be from. Are there unique challenges in the South Apopka area? There certainly are, and I am running because there are issues across Apopka as a whole that need to be addressed as well. As Commissioner, I will invest all time necessary to weigh impacts and interests from each portion of our city when making Council decisions.”

Alice Nolan, Apopka City Commission, Doug Bankson, Kyle Becker, Single member district, South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, Young Kim


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