Denise and I were recently in town for a week after a 15-month tour of America. It was an incredible trip, but it felt good to spend time in Apopka.
One of my priorities was meeting with as many elected officials and community leaders as possible. I reached out to 16 and was able to set appointments with nine.
Among the interviews I secured were three city commissioners, two 2024 Apopka municipal election candidates, a state house representative, an Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District director, and the police chief... more on those interviews in the coming days.
Unfortunately, there were four interviews I did not get to conduct that would have helped to resolve a number of issues facing Apopka.
I also texted Mayor Bryan Nelson before we arrived:
"Mayor Nelson: I'll be in Apopka October 8th-15th. Would you have a free hour for an interview any time that week?"
Much to my surprise, I received an optimistic reply:
"I have availability on Tuesday."
I followed up with three texts asking for a specific time on Tuesday but did not receive a response.
My final text:
"I still have times left, Mayor Nelson. If we meet, I'll ask tough questions, but the story will be in your own words. Just let me know if you have availability anytime next week."
I had a lot of questions for Mayor Nelson that the community is already asking... and they shouldn't go unanswered.
Among them are:
Rather than seeking an alternative media source, attacking the questioner, or making statements unrelated to the subject, why not take each question at face value and answer honestly - with no political spin? I've interviewed you before, Mayor Nelson. From experience, you know I would give you every opportunity to answer those questions without interruption or edits. It would be in your own words.
Chief Wylam: You and I have never had an interview, but I have emailed you several times over the last few years. You have always been timely to respond and always send back more details than I ask for - unless it's a tough question. If you and I sat down for an interview, I would have asked these questions:
Mr. Vavrek: You and I have never met, butThe Apopka Voice has always had a good relationship with previous city administrators dating back to 2015. I hope you and I can keep that streak going. If we had met, I would have asked you:
Commissioner Smith: I have interviewed you several times since you took office, and I am inspired by your life story, and excited by your agenda. But now, it's time to make that agenda a reality. If you had taken an interview, I would have asked you:
Mayor Nelson, Commissioner Smith, Mr. Vavrek, and Chief Wylam, I know that old-school politics teaches you to avoid tough interviews, surround yourself with people who agree with you, and have them ask the questions you want them to ask. But let me offer an alternative plan - kind of the opposite of the one you are currently employing. Talk to anyone who will listen to you about city issues. Answer any and every question until the questioner has no more questions left. Be forthcoming and transparent. Have the confidence of your convictions that got you to the leadership roles of mayor, commissioner, city administrator, and fire chief.
I may not always agree with you on every subject, but I am always available for you to explain your side and understand. Perhaps Apopka residents are just as willing.