Alexander H. Smith is a two-term City Commissioner with a passion for bringing South Apopka into the city he represents. In a 2021 interview with The Apopka Voice, he made the assertion that he would be willing to spend a sizeable amount of money to make it happen.
"Because I believe South Apopka needs to be annexed into the City, depending on what that $10 million was going to do... if it was going to improve the infrastructure, and we could make that annexation happen, then I would be willing to spend the $10 million... even if it were straight out of the reserves."
You might think he would walk back such a statement down the road, but he maintained his stance months later at a meeting about South Apopka annexation in 2022.
"When The Apopka Voice asked me if it cost $10 million to annex South Apopka, would I annex? I answered yes... and I still stand by that because I don't think you can put a price on human life. It's the right thing to do. The City of Apopka has benefited greatly from the residents that live in South Apopka. Some of them are suffering financially, spiritually, and healthwise as a result of the contribution that they have made to the City of Apopka. It's the right thing to do."
And now, in 2023, after a second workshop on annexing South Apopka, Smith has not backed away. In fact, he is calling for the City to create a five-year plan of action.
Here is Smith, in an op/ed piece about annexing South Apopka, in his own words:
The Annexation meeting held on Tuesday night was another step in the process of becoming "One Apopka!"
We heard the concerns of the residents that live in the unincorporated part of Apopka. The city has done its homework on the cost of becoming "One Apopka."
From the residents' voices, there needs to be more trust in the elected officials. We recognize this will not happen overnight. Therefore, a plan needs to be put in place to move in that direction to show that we are genuinely concerned. So, it's time to put our words into action and gain their confidence.
I propose that we put together a five-year plan to become "One Apopka."
Many of the residents that came forth and spoke pointed out some of the disparities that have existed for years, and there has been no change. Another meeting needs to be held again at the John Bridges Community Center at a time (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) as indicated by the residents so that others can attend.
It's also time to bring in an independent consultant to conduct the workshops, so they are productive.
At this meeting, the residents need to be allocated the time to voice their concerns and expectations of becoming City residents. In addition, it needs to be highlighted the benefits of being "One Apopka." Listening to those who spoke at the meeting, the greatest benefit would be that the residents of unincorporated Apopka would have a voice in who the elected officials are serving in the city where they live. By doing so, we (Mayor & Commissioners) will be held accountable for the concerns that were presented at the meeting.
Other advantages of being united as "One Apopka" have not been highlighted. If others all around are requesting to become annexed into the city, there must be some value in becoming a city resident. It's the right thing to do! We need to make our current residents (5,000 plus) a priority—those who have contributed to and continue to contribute to the success of Apopka.
During the 5-year plan, there need to be check marks to indicate progress toward achieving the end goal. Fire Station 7 needs to be on Cleveland Street to prepare for the annexation. As elected officials, we need to start looking for funds to assist with this growth, as we did with Fire station 6 and the extension of Harmon Road.
No one (from unincorporated Apopka) is driving to the County Commissioners Chamber in Orlando, but you can come to City Hall and speak to your Mayor and Commissioners.