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.
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I have been listening to the latest annexation meeting, and I also listened to the previous meeting, that was held in November last year. You politicians need to stop with your drama, and let the people of South Apopka decide what they want, and not what you want! Push to get the referendum set up, and let the residents of unincorporated Apopka vote! Clearly, there are residents for, and against annexation into the COA municipal boundaries. No independent consultant is needed, that is you all's idea (dangling carrot on a string bait....promises, promises, promises) to try to convince and brainwash holdouts that they would be better off in the city) but WOULD THEY??? You can't fool them! You all are not fooling me either! Last meeting , I couldn't believe Becker questioning the police chief with his question of how many residents in South Apopka would be in violation of code enforcement, if we annexed right then? It was a ridiculous question, of course the police chief said he didn't know! This shows Becker's true colors... Also, this latest meeting, Becker is not very convincing, when he tries to tell everyone the property taxes won't go up if South Apopka annexes into the city. Too bad they couldn't be hooked up to a lie detector device. I guess Becker can't state he hasn't heard anyone against the annexation now, especially after that one lady let him have it. Reggie, you told them be loud and clear, so they were! Also, Smith gives the impression that it was just the South Apopka people who worked in agriculture, picking fruit, working the greenhouses, firing the smudge pots in the winter, and doing the backbreaking dirty labor, no, it was a whole lot of people, all over this entire area, white, blacks, and all races, and not just South Apopkans, like Smith seems to indicate in his conversations at the annexation meeting.
Thursday, January 26 Report this
I have been following the Annex South Apopka debate for some time now. After reading this article, and others, I am left asking the same question that I have asked since I started following this.
Who benefits? The City residents? South Apopka residents? Being a City resident, if my tax money is to be spent on this, I want to know why and how it benefits my community. This should not be difficult. A few simple 'laundry' lists such as, (1) Upside for City, (2) Upside for South, (3) down side for City, (4) down side for South, and finally based on these lists, (5) desires of City and South citizens.
Instead, thus far the most prominent justification I can find is "It's the right thing to do." 9 out of 10 times when a a politician says this, it is EXACTLY the opposite.
Mr. Smith said, "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." I'd like some evidence of this. I've lived in the City for over 20 years. How exactly has South Apopka benefited me? And news flash, people in the City are also "suffering financially, spiritually, and healthwise," these are typically personal matters. How do these things correlate?
To be honest, I'm not 'against' annexation. But so far I see little evidence to support such a thing, and I am seeing more BS attempting to do the same.
If we need 5 years to figure this out, we don't need to do it, because something else is going on. Let's cut to the chase and make a decision.
Thursday, January 26 Report this
The "One Apopka" drive to unite Apopka, north, south, east and west, was started for a very honorable desire. It was brought up time and time again at the Apopka City Council meeting, during former Mayor Kilsheimer's term. There eventually was a council vote taken, and there were both nays and yes votes from the council members. I believe Commissioner Velazquez stated she voted yes. I don't have the record here before me, but I was present at the meeting, and I do know Mayor K, and former Commissioner Ruth voted no. I can't remember the others. Correct me, if I am wrong. It has been awhile. I think it was described as a proclamation There was nothing wrong with it, at all. However, some were fearful that there was more to the proclamation, and did not vote for it Here is the thing , about the "One Apopka" Proclamation.....former city attorney, Cliff Shepard, hope I got his name correct.. sat in on these city meetings, and he said it simply was a "feels good" attempt of unity, but not a legally binding one, and he said, in his own words, legally speaking,, " it had no teeth". Okay, so this annexation DOES, and has teeth alright! Look for your taxes to go up, look for code enforcement to go crazy, look for your properties to possibly be eminent domained, if a developer needs your property to complete his big development. Developers are waiting licking their chops! I am telling you the truth. It is a land grab, it is political. The county has way more revenue to spend on South Apopka wants and needs, way more. It is the county that should be held more accountable to unincorporated Apopkans. So be forewarned, but if being in the city is your desire, then that is okay by me.
Thursday, January 26 Report this