The Apopka City Commission election cycle is a three-month marathon, but it’s run in daily 100-yard-dashes. Candidates have to pace themselves, but must be ready to sprint or risk being left behind. We've been watching this sprint/marathon since the beginning, but the finish line is now in sight.
Six brave candidates have spent the last 100 days on this roller coaster campaign trail. They raised and spent thousands of dollars, knocked on hundreds of doors, pushed dozens of “vote for me” signs into the ground. They shook hands, spoke at forums, interacted and posted on Facebook, and sat for hours with reporters (thanks again for your time). They’ve defended their records and pushed-back on attacks, and waved at drivers as they passed by intersections and the early voting site.
And on Tuesday evening, all six of them will get their report cards.
As of 4:00 PM today 5,286 Apopkans have voted either early or by absentee ballot. It is almost a certainty that this will be the largest turnout in Apopka Municipal election history.
Only two candidates have ever received 3,000 or more votes in Apopka election history (Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and Commissioner Sam Ruth in the 2014 runoff elections). But considering the projected turnout totals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see four candidates eclipse that plateau tomorrow night.
I hail from the faraway land of Altamonte Springs, and while it only takes me 10 minutes to drive to The Apopka Voice offices, politically I may as well be from another planet. Unlike any other city in Central Florida I am familiar with (with the possible exceptions Winter Park or Orlando), Apopka elections are a part of the community fabric. Most cities are fairly apathetic to local elections. They have a limited identity with the city they live in, and probably couldn't name their elected officials if they walked in the room. In Apopka, that is a completely different story.
I was given a crash course in Apopka politics over the past three months since The Apopka Voice launched. I’ve gotten to know these six candidates with almost no pre-conceived notions. I’ve watched them at forums, asked them hard questions and written quite a bit about them, while getting to know them fairly well.
And at the end of this process, I can say three things definitively – I believe all of them have what’s best for Apopka in mind, I believe Seats #3 and #4 of the Apopka City Commission will end up in qualified hands, and I like all six of them. And what are the odds that a reporter would like six out of six politicians?
And now for The Apopka Voice recommendations:
We have covered these six candidates comprehensively over the past three months. We published the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of these two campaigns. We asked the candidates a question a week for 9 weeks and let them write 200 word replies. We co-sponsored a debate. We published 1,000 word features on each candidate. When you are this thorough, it would almost be an insult to our reader’s intelligence to endorse a candidate. If you have a question about a candidate, we have probably asked it.
So our recommendation is that everyone should vote.
The vast majority of you reading this probably already have, and we commend you for voting. A smaller, more vocal group has commented, posted and interacted on Facebook, on our website, and we commend for that too. We have taken our lumps this election cycle. We were called every name in the book – partisan, politically motivated, irresponsible, in the tank, glorified bloggers, and Mr. Voice (?).
We understand the critiques and thank you for those also. We knew it would take some time for our readers to find a rhythm to what we are doing. By now it is our hope that you see The Apopka Voice as an objective place for Apopkans to go for the news.
Have a great Election Day Apopka, and check back with us tomorrow starting at 7:00 AM for wall-to-wall coverage of the Apopka elections, and maybe a little taste of the Presidential Preference Primary election too.
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