EDITORIAL ANALYSIS OF THE SEAT#4 FORUM
By Reggie Connell
The seat #4 City Commission Forum began as a respectful exchange of ideas between Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith, and challengers Kyle Becker and Young Kim. But in closing remarks, things changed.
Arrowsmith told the story of a flight to Los Angeles and two pilots - one with years of experience and the other with no experience. "Who would you want flying that plane?" Arrowsmith asked rhetorically and with applause from the audience."
In his closing remarks, Becker chose to answer Arrowsmith's rhetorical question.
“Experience doesn’t matter if you don’t fly the plane," he said, with applause from the crowd as well.
Kim piled on, blaming Arrowsmith for a vote he took in 1993.
"He voted for the TownCenter, and 23 years later nothing has happened."
Because it was in closing arguments, Arrowsmith was not given the opportunity to defend his 39 year tenure as City Commissioner. However there was plenty of substance in the Forum leading up to closing statements.
In his opening statement, Arrowsmith outlined his history in Apopka and in office.
"I am a 60 year resident of Apopka. I am a US Army Veteran and a banker in Apopka for 45 years," he said. "I have helped keep our city on a strong financial foundation and have kept taxes low.
Becker used his experience in business to make his case.
"I am a systems business analyst," he said. "I think my skill set will fit well on the City Commission and for Apopka."
The question that seemed to cause the most controversy also seemed to have the most interesting responses from the Seat #4 candidates:
"Several department heads have left the city over the past 18 months. Have city services to the public improved in that time? How about internal city functions such as finance or IT?"
Becker saw both improvements and areas that need to be improved upon. He showed a command of the issues and an ability to think on his feet. His skills as an analyst were clear as he often referenced data, or a lack of data to support or dispute an issue.
"There have been positive changes made," he said. "I think we've taken some strides, but there are still changes to be made. The (City of Apopka) website is still clunky."
Kim seemed not only comfortable, but eager to implement changes. His free-wheeling style was comfortable in this format.
"Change is positive," he said. "Recycling of leaders is a good thing. Internal change is a good thing."
Being a part of these changes, Arrowsmith was more specific. His knowledge of Apopka was evident throughout the Forum
"Chief Manley was a great police chief," he said. "Chief McKinley is also a great police chief, but I did not approve of the process. "When a new leader comes in, he wants his own team, but we have lost a lot of talent in this city."
Reggie Connell is the Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice.
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