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Candidate Feature: Darryl Richardson, Seat #3

Richardson's plan for the city commission is to run Apopka like a business


Darryl Richardson means business.

Richardson, a six-year resident of Apopka, took little time to invest in what turned out to be one of the city's most popular bars:  Three Odd Guys Brewing. 

Now, he has his eyes trained on the Apopka City Commission.

Two of Apopka's most popular commissioners, Doug Bankson and Kyle Becker, occupied Seat #3 for the past eight years. Bankson is currently serving as Florida House Representative for District 39, while Becker (who also sat in Seat #4) recently announced his time on the Council (2016-2024) is ending.

Richardson and his opponent, Nadia Anderson, are both first-time candidates. Whoever is victorious will have to fill a vacancy left by the past two vice-mayors of Apopka.

Richardson, if elected, will rely on his business skills to fill that void.

According to his campaign website, Richardson's career started in the late 80s in the commercial printing business. His focus was on the retail market inserts and popular magazines like Sports Illustrated and Time. With the rise of cybercrime in the early 2000s, Richardson refocused his career on Cyber Security and Data Governance roles. His new role was with the locally based Symantec/Veritas, with the primary target being State and Federal Government customers.

He is currently with Egnyte, where he is a Data Governance Architect. His primary function is Security and Data Governance, and he understands the importance of protecting the security and integrity of privacy data worldwide.

But what can Richardson do as an Apopka City Commissioner?

"I have always been able to bring people together, even if they were perceived adversaries," Richardson said. "Collaboration will be the key to success with the next city commissioners; not just the ability to work with the other city commissioners and Mayor but to work together with city staff, county officials, and community organizations to achieve common goals and address challenges effectively. I have always been active in the community, participating in many city functions and events as a person and a business owner, listening actively to the constituents, and plan to continue this community engagement."

He will also commit to an open form of government.

"As a commissioner, transparency and accountability will be a key focus to build trust back into the city government," he said. "I will commit to transparency and accountability governance, promising to keep constituents informed about decisions, policies, and financial matters. I would also present a clear vision for the future of Apopka and Innovative ideas to address current challenges. This may include proposals for economic development, infrastructure improvements, or sustainability initiatives."

Richardson is supportive of proactive leadership rather than just attending meetings and casting votes.

"One major difference as a city commissioner would be making themselves accessible, the ability to speak with anyone at any time no matter who or what the topic is. There are many ways to accomplish this, like holding town hall meetings, always maintaining an open-door policy to anyone, or utilizing technology to engage with the community. I want to be a voice for the entire city, not just a few communities."

Spending taxpayer dollars wisely is also at the forefront of his platform.

"A city commissioner should maintain a commitment to fiscal responsibility by demonstrating responsible budgeting and financial management and ensuring that taxpayers' tax dollars are used efficiently and effectively."

Richardson brings to his campaign an element of quality control. Even paying an Apopka water bill caught his eye as a potential area for improvement.

"Ensuring the city is using the latest technology to protect our assets would be a game changer," he said. "For example, why do I still have to pay a $6.00 charge to pay my water bill online? Improving the efficiency of City infrastructure improves all city personnel and service functions. Convert the city into effectively analyzing traffic patterns and waste management routes and research energy-smart cities to efficient systems that would save the city money in the long run." 

He's concerned with the emerging issue of growth in Apopka, but he has a plan.

"There are things that the city can do to manage the growth of the city properly. Since Apopka is experiencing some of the highest percentages of growth in the state, we must do what we can to preserve the history of Apopka while allowing progress. First, as a city, we need to understand those areas' growth targets and future needs fully. A good start so that I may understand the challenges would be to develop a comprehensive growth plan. I would encourage the city government to work with urban planners and engage the community in developing a plan to manage the growth. The plan should take into consideration land use, transportation and infrastructure, and environmental sustainability. The plan should also include a review and update on zoning regulations to ensure all align with this growth plan. The underlying item for me is to preserve Apopka’s city character."

While he supports affordable housing initiatives, he thinks they require an effective local, county, and state effort.

"With growth comes the mention of affordable housing as well. Everyone deserves to live where they wish. Affordable housing initiatives should be part of this growth that affords everyone an opportunity to live the Apopka dream. This is important to preserve Apopka’s diverse demographic. With any growth, adequate educational and healthcare services must be available; it would be important to ensure proper communication with stakeholders at the county and state levels to address these issues."

Richardson, like so many Apopka residents, is frustrated with the limited success made in developing the Apopka City Center.

"The City Center project has been in the creation phase for far too long," he said. "The last real movement on this project seemed to have been back in 2022-2023 when the topic was hot. The City Center was to bring some restaurants and housing and be the foundation to start Apopka on a course to be a destination for Central Florida residents. As you look at other cities like Winter Garden, Mt. Dora, and Sanford, these cities have become destinations that even Apopka residents will flock to on the weekends. The first thing I would do to move this project forward is conduct a comprehensive review. Evaluating the project timeline, goals, or other challenges that continue to hold up the project. I would also look to the current stakeholders for the project and engage with them to fully understand the role each key stakeholder would play in the project's development."

Finally, with the Apopka City Charter on voters' minds, Richardson is certainly open to changing the form of government Apopka uses.

"Since Apopka has operated under a Strong Mayor form of government, due to the city’s size, this form of government may not be best suited for Apopka moving forward. Other cities have changed their structure to afford the commissioners more decision-making ability to make positive changes. This is something that should be brought to the voters to decide. I might also Consider changes to the number of commissioners, term lengths, or the mayor's role. By modifying the structure of the current city government, we might assess the balance of power between the mayor and the commissioners."

It will certainly be a heavy lift for anyone to follow Bankson and Becker into Seat #3, let alone a first-time candidate. But Richardson believes his business experience will allow him to be effective on the Apopka City Council.

Election Day in Apopka is March 19th.

Darryl Richardson, Apopka Elections 2024, Apopka City Commission Seat #3, Apopka City Council


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