By Greg Jackson
By now, many of you know that I am a huge movie-buff. So much so, that if you read closely you can find a movie reference in virtually every column I write. Well, to save you some time searching for the reference here, let me tell you that one of my all time favorite movie lines is from the 2003 film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and Lady). It is the scene in the library where our heroes have gathered, all but Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde, and the place has been overrun by the villain, who turns out to be "M", and his marksmen. Each hero is battling it out with the marksmen, showcasing their extraordinary talent in a whirlwind of bullets, pages from books and shattered glass -- a rather chaotic scene. Then, the camera pans to Captain Nemo who calmly walks into the fray and is confronted by an armed man who points his firearm at Captain Nemo and commands him to "Draw your pistol." At that moment Captain Nemo with all the commotion around him looks the man in the eye and says: "I walk a different path." And in that moment Captain Nemo defines himself within this storm of unrest as a composed warrior who does things his way before unleashing a can-of-whip ... well, you get where I am going.
So, with that magnificent intro, here is my question: who will step up to be Apopka's Captain Nemo? Watching news reports and reading articles about the "antics" taking place in the City, folks are led to believe that chaos and mistrust are brewing in the City of Apopka. Many residents feel ignored, some organizations feel there are political favors being given to outsiders, certain small businesses feel disregarded and there is a general sense that the only vision Apopka should follow is the one given to them, not one that citizens work together to create. Sadly, many Apopkans feel that they have found themselves existing in a whirlwind of discontent and mistrust. However, no one has stepped out to proclaim that a different path is available and possible. Sure, there are many complaints that all sound too familiar, for instance we have heard that: the development taking place around the 429 offers very few job opportunities within Apopka for Apopkans; no one seems to be committed to improving the economic development opportunities on the south side of Apopka; or that no one seems to know or understand the vision or direction of the City. Instead of a calm, confident voice stepping forward to bring new ideas and direction, many Apopkans appear to be apathetic and paralyzed with the fear of challenging the way things are. This, in turn, has led to delayed progress.
The Captain Nemo I envision should not be an elected official because he must have the freedom to speak without the threat of political retribution. The Captain Nemo I envision is neither a part of the clergy nor academia because he or she must have the freedom to kick a little butt and be able to depart from the civilized use of the Queen's English when situations call for it. The Captain Nemo I envision never looks for trouble (which disqualifies me), but when necessary can navigate through the turmoil that will certainly present itself at some point-in-time. In fact, the Captain Nemo I envision is not just a single person, but a group of friends, neighbors, youth, seniors, voters etc., who come forward to kick a little butt to create the change they wish to see. So whether it is small business development, job creation, affordable housing opportunities, holding politicians and candidates to their word, it is time for Apopkans to commit to walking a different path together to bring about the progress that will benefit Apopka as a whole -- in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.