Apopka said goodbye to two City Commissioners last night as Bill Arrowsmith and Sam Ruth sat in Seats #3 and #4 for the last time.
Kyle Becker defeated Arrowsmith to take over Seat #4, while Doug Bankson defeated Ruth for Seat #3 in the April 12th runoff election. Bankson and Becker will be sworn-in next Tuesday. Both Arrowsmith and Ruth have said they would not seek elected office again. Arrowsmith was on the City Commission longer than anyone in Apopka history. Ruth's tenure was one of the shortest.
But on this night there were tears, laughter, applause, standing ovations, and appreciation for the two outgoing Commissioners.
Arrowsmith, a 39-year legend on the Commission, spoke of previous administrations and teams that formed the base of what Apopka is today.
“I have been fortunate to have served with a man of the highest of integrity in Mayor John Land and also many fellow commissioners making up great teams over the years,” he said in a speech at the end of last night’s City Council meeting. “It is rewarding to see cranes working on the new hospital to the south, heavy equipment carving a path to the north for the 429 extension, continued expansion of the Cooper Industrial Parks and new residential developments coming out of the ground. These teams have formed the foundation for the future of this city and my biggest concern is that we don’t put all of our focus on dreaming of green pastures and forget to fertilize what we have.”
Despite only two years on the City Commission, Ruth talked about the honor it was for him to serve.
“Everytime I sat in this seat, it was a privilege. But it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to you (the people),” he said in remarks after Arrowsmith. "I never used this seat as a weapon, and no one ever told me how to vote. There is no book on how to be a commissioner. Sitting in this seat is the loneliest place in Apopka.”
Arrowsmith was critical of Becker for what he has described as running a negative campaign. And in the week since the election results were announced, he maintains his opinion. In fact Arrowsmith extended his criticism to the current administration.
“Unfortunately from Washington on down, we see candidates with nothing more than the ability to put a good spin cycle on their opponent in a negative form as their way of gaining office,” he said. "It was not unexpected to see the glaring support from this administration for my opponent including fundraising and bullying businesses that chose to support me. I have been criticized for not congratulating my opponent and would like to reiterate that this is not a game when it affects your family.”
Ruth’s last words as an Apopka City Commissioner was to joke about his inexperience, and to renew his love for the city.
“The four years I ran unsuccessfully for City Commissioner I knew everything. It was only after I was elected that I found out I didn’t know nothing,” he said.
“But I will tell you this…I’m one of Apopka’s biggest cheerleaders. I wasn’t always the people’s first choice, but Apopka was always my first choice.”
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