CANDIDATE FEATURE - ALICE NOLAN (Challenger for Seat#3)
Alice Nolan loves Apopka. She was born and raised here and her family is among the original settlers to Apopka.
“They (the Larsson family) settled a portion of Apopka, the Piedmont area,” she said. “They were one of the Swedish settlers. They actually took care of a portion of the road that is now 441 back in the late 1800’s.”
Her roots are deep in Apopka, and it was from her family that she gained such passion for the city.
“They taught me about love and community and it trickled down to me.”
Despite her civic pride, it came as a surprise to the Apopka political community when Nolan, a 27-year old mother of three, chose to challenge incumbent Commissioner Sam Ruth, and Doug Bankson, a well known pastor in Apopka for the City Commission Seat #3. Both Ruth and Bankson are well-financed and with large voter bases in place. It would seem Nolan will be in for an uphill battle.
But Nolan has an authentic self-confidence when it comes to this election.
“I’m very well organized,” she said in listing her qualifications. “I do the research for the City Council meeting anyway. I go out and I talk to the people. I’m a foot soldier when it comes to that.”
A foot soldier is not the typical description heard from a prospective leader, but the title seems to fit Nolan. Her campaign style is talking with individuals in one-to-one conversations. She seems to have time for everyone, and her warm, positive authenticity connects with them.
“I love that everyone has their own opinions…everyone has ideas. It’s what makes everything so great…is that we’re different. I’ve been introduced to different cultures by going door-to-door in the campaign. Sometimes you get caught up in your own group and you don’t see outside of it. Sometimes you see other ideas when you look outside your own group. Good ideas that you didn't have before.”
Despite her seemingly unlimited optimism towards Apopka, Nolan has been through a traumatic period in her life when she almost lost her infant son Jonas. She was only 23 when it happened.
“My son (Jonas) had open-heart surgery when he was a month old,” she said. “He had died on us… When I took him from the car to the ER… I handed him over to the nurse and she said he had passed away. But they were able to revive him and put him on life support. It was in those hours we learned it was his heart that was hooked-up wrong. His blood… instead of recycling was emptying into his lungs.”
“I don’t think we have huge problems,” she said. “A lot of small ones. Everything is fixable. In Apopka we don’t have anything that’s so huge we cant handle it. And that is great. Created problems do not create unity. That’s not going to fix anything. I think as we go along, the younger generation of politicians coming in …I think that will change.”
It is Nolan’s optimism and pride in the city that makes her speak of Apopka as if it’s already in its golden age. Or perhaps it’s a prediction one of her family members made over a century before.
“My great grandfather collected family keepsakes from the early settlers in Apopka… the very first families. He started the Apopka Historical Society because he knew one day Apopka would be great.”
Nolan couldn’t agree with her great grandfather more, and believes his prophecy has already been fulfilled.
This is the first of a series of candidate features The Apopka Voice will publish in the coming weeks.