Pastor Hezekiah Bradford returned to a familiar topic during the public comments portion of The Apopka City Council meeting on Wednesday – Single Member Districts. And as thoroughly as that topic was addressed during the election cycle, and in a five-part series in The Apopka Voice, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer covered new ground during his back-and-forth with Bradford. He saw his request for a Single Member District discussion, and raised him a Charter Review.
“We had a discussion,” said Kilsheimer. “The community had a discussion during the campaign. Not one of the candidates favored entertaining this discussion."
Commissioner Doug Bankson made this statement to The Apopka Voice about Single Member Districts during the campaign:
“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.”
Commissioner Kyle Becker made this statement to The Apopka Voice during the campaign:
“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.”
“A charter is in place. We had a charter review in 2013. I am fully prepared to have a full and complete charter discussion from A-Z. Every topic needs to be on the agenda. I am firmly persuaded that the charter review we had a few years ago did not inspire confidence from the public.”
Bradford remained focused on the idea of getting the Single Member District initiative on the agenda.
“I want to see someone we can hold accountable. I want to make sure nobody is left behind. We want someone we know can come back to us on the southside and tell us what they have accomplished.”
Kilsheimer remained staunch in his belief that a charter review must cover all issues, not specific to one issue, and that all commissioners and himself can be held accountable for all of Apopka.
“We have two new energetic commissioners, and myself who will go virtually anywhere we are asked and address any issue you want addressed. And I see Commissioner (Diane) Velazquez all around town. But I’m just going to say a charter review should be done comprehensively, not on a one-off basis.”
In November of 2013, and concluding in early June of 2014, the Apopka City Charter Review Committee met to discuss three issues – term limits, adding two commissioners to the City Council, and single member districts.
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