2018 Campaign Update: Seminole County


Seminole County Finance Report Highlights: Zembower Cash Advantage Grows; Menzel backed by Jai Lai


  • Zembower added $15,000 in April, and has surpassed $100,000 mark to date
  • Menzel trails Zembower by $90,000 in cash on hand, but does appear to have enough to pay filing fee if necessary
  • Jai Lai jumps into the race, as Menzel receives maximum contribution from company owned by Seminole Jai Lai owner Richard Birdoff, who received money from Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
  • Amy Lockhart and Joe Durso funding tapers as Durso maintains sight cash on hand advantage
  • School Board candidate Cade Resnick maintains cash lead among the 6 candidates filed for District 1


Seminole County Commission candidate Jay Zembower continued to build his lead over his opponent Donald Menzel this month, according to reports filed to the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.


Zembower raked in an additional $15,175.00 in April, compared to $2,500 for Menzel. Zembower has raised $106,000 and has $96,000 cash on hand. Menzel has $6,800 cash on hand headed into the summer. Although expenditures for May have not yet been reported, Menzel does appear at the moment to have enough money to pay the filing fee if needed. If Menzel does not qualify by petition, he may have to spend most of his cash on hand to pay the fee, which exceeds $5,000.


Zembower received 35 contributions averaging $433 during April. Menzel received four contributions, the largest of which was $1,000 from a New York based company owned by Richard Birdoff, who owns the Seminole County Jai Lai. Birdoff has long had an interest in Seminole County, as another of his New York based companies was recently awarded money through the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which is a mechanism for counties to fund money toward urban development and has long been criticized by opponents as a way to avoid transparency and circumvent the public accountability of the county commission. Defenders of the CRA point to its utility in improving underdeveloped areas of the county.


In Seminole County’s other race for County Commission, both Amy Lockhart and Joe Durso have seen fundraising success. While Durso has always maintained a total cash raised advantage, the funding for both candidates has slowed in recent months, and Durso maintains a slight advantage in cash on hand after expenditures. Both candidates raised less than $10,000 this month, as local donors could be close to tapped out, having contributed more than $280,000 to the race to date.


In the race for School Board, Winter Springs Commissioner Cade Resnick maintains a cash advantage, having raised more than $18,000. His opponents Kristine Kraus and Alan Youngblood have raised $8,000 and $4,000 respectively. The three remaining candidates have raised less than $1,000 each.


Stay tuned to the Orlando Political Observer for more analysis of local races.


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