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 mayor.
Part One: The race for mayor
John Land vs. Joe Kilsheimer.
It was an epic, historic election, but do you remember the other two candidates in the 2014 mayoral election?
Kilsheimer defeated Land 3,352 (54.5%) - 2,803 (45.5%) in the runoff election, but in the general election, there were two other candidates - Glen Chancy (482 votes 9.7%), and Gregg Phillips (208 votes 4.2%). Those two longshots garnered enough votes to force the Land - Kilsheimer runoff.
In 2018, Mayor Kilsheimer vs. Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson has all the earmarks of an equally epic battle.
Neither Kilsheimer nor Nelson has ever lost an election. Both have high name recognition in Apopka. Both will likely be well-funded. Both go in with a large base of voters.
But will they run this race alone?
The Apopka Voice contacted Chancy and Phillips, but neither responded by the time of publication. Neither Clancy nor Phillips has stayed connected to Apopka politics or made any reference to a run in 2018. Their decision to run for office would be a surprise.
Perhaps the most credible challengers to Kilsheimer and Nelson would be two current commissioners who defeated incumbents in 2016 - Doug Bankson and Kyle Becker. However, credible isn't the same as prudent, and both Bankson and Becker showed no interest in a 2018 run in their statements.
"I have no plans to do so (run for mayor)," said Bankson. "I am still in my first year (as an Apopka City Commissioner) and intend to fulfill my commitment to the voters of Apopka who entrusted me with this responsibility. It's been an honor to serve, and I believe before I would look to do anything else it would be beneficial to all to gain the experience afforded in this office. I love our city and am content to serve and champion our common goals."
For similar reasons, Becker will remain in his current position as a city commissioner.
"I am proudly serving my fellow Apopka residents as Commissioner of Seat 4," said Becker. "I look forward to fulfilling my 4-year commitment and can confirm I will not seek election in our city's Mayoral race."
Certainly with Election Day a little less than a year away, other prospects may emerge. A lot can happen in politics in that amount of time. However, in considering Kilsheimer and Nelson's stature, name recognition, and success in local elections, the likelihood is they may have cleared the field and will go head-to-head in 2018.
Tomorrow: Part Two - The race for Apopka City Commission/ Seat #1.