Part Three: Apopka City Commission Seat #2
Note – Within hours of each other last week, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson announced their candidacies for the Apopka Mayoral election, which is approximately one year away.
And with those two high-profile announcements, the Apopka political season officially began.
For the next four days, The Apopka Voice will analyze four 2018 election contests that will most catch the attention of the community – Apopka Mayor, Apopka City Commission (seats #1 and #2), and the Orange County Commission (Seat #2). TAV will reach out to the 25 people we believe might run for those four offices, and confirm if they are going to be a candidate or sit this election cycle out.
Today we focus on the race for Apopka City Commission Seat #2
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. The Apopka political season is upon us. Just a year away from election day and there are already two races taking shape. For mayor, it's the incumbent Joe Kilsheimer versus Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson in what looks like an intriguing matchup. For City Commission Seat #1, incumbent Billie Dean has not decided if he will run or retire after 23 years in office, but his undecided status did not stop two candidates from announcing their intent to run for the seat.
Gene Knight (of Apopka Then and Now fame), and Pastor Alexander Smith announced their candidacies yesterday, and don't be surprised if more follow. Seat #1 should be a wild ride with first-time candidates providing a lot of choices, entertainment, and excitement for Apopka voters.
But what about Seat #2?
Commissioner Diane Velazquez was elected to the Apopka City Council in March 2014. She beat incumbent Marilyn Ustler McQueen 2,646 (55%)-2,145 (45%). She quietly announced her intent to run for re-election in 2018 at the March 15th City Council meeting after Kilsheimer announced his re-election bid.
No fuss. No Facebook announcements. No fundraising events. No meet-and-greets. Velazquez has kept it low key, and so far she has no challengers.
Alice Nolan was the surprise candidate of the 2016 election cycle. In her very first run for office, the 27-year-old received 2,159 votes (22.74%) in the general election against incumbent Sam Ruth and eventual winner Doug Bankson. She did not qualify for the runoff election a month later, but she left the race with a lot of momentum that most thought would propel her into another campaign in 2018.
However Nolan, now 28, chose to take this cycle off.
"I am humbled by the family, friends and fellow citizens of Apopka who have publicly come out to say they will support me in my endeavors to run for City Commissioner. My love for Apopka, as many have seen, runs deep, and is shown through the many hours of volunteering I do for our community. With much thought and prayer, I have chosen not to run for Apopka City Commissioner this term. I feel in my heart that my place in Apopka currently lies in my advocacy for its citizens and continued community service. I encourage anyone to run for office because the chair belongs to the great citizens of Apopka."
With Nolan sitting this one out, is it possible Velazquez could win her second term unopposed? It's a little early... okay it's way too early to determine the probability, but keep in mind that if Seat #1 ends up an open seat (meaning no incumbent is running), why would a candidate choose to take on an established candidate like Velazquez when they can enter the free-for-all that Seat#1 could end up being?
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