I’m excited to continue my election year interview series with our first candidate from the competitive Orange County Commission District 2 contest. Attorney Greg Jackson took time to answer some questions and share his vision for an area that will have a new face for the first time in 8 years next year. Incumbent Fred Brummer is termed out.
Here is what Mr. Jackson had to say.
FT: Hello Mr. Jackson, Thanks for taking the time to interview. What are you hearing from Voters on the ground? And what do you believe is the biggest concern for District 2?
Greg Jackson: District 2 is a large, diverse area and as such, what I am hearing from voters as I go into the various cities, town and communities differ somewhat. In Apopka voters are very concerned about the environmental and transportation issues, particularly since their dollars are going towards a SunRail system that passes them by. In South Apopka and Pine Hills, the concerns turn more so to job opportunities, youth work/mentoring programs to help our children prepare for the future, and public safety. In College Park residents have a concern with the number of sex offenders residing in the area. Ocoee would like to be able to take full advantage of the major roadways that traverse their area, 429, SR50, Turnpike, 408, to attract businesses to provide job opportunities. In Lockhart voters want parks for our children, safe neighborhoods and a viable plan to handle the growth that is coming our way due to the 414 expansion, which has increased traffic significantly. In Eatonville, the residents want to maintain their rich history, grow tourism based on that history, while at the same time find a way to develop their town to take advantage of its location and history.Based on my conversations with voters, residents and business owners, I believe the biggest concern for District 2 is how to bring about smart, efficient growth. Properly planned growth will have a positive impact on job opportunities, public safety, youth programs, transportation and the environment.
FT: One of the biggest votes from the Commission last year was the venues vote? The tens of millions of Tourism Development Tax Dollars that will be spent on the new Performing Arts Center, Citrus Bowl Renovations, and MLS Stadium. How would you have voted and why?
Greg Jackson: In understanding that TDT dollars are generated to help build and maintain the Orange County Convention Center, develop and implement marketing strategies to keep Central Florida one of the top tourist destinations in the World, as well as to invest in community venues, like stadiums and performing arts centers, I would have voted to use the funds for the Performing Arts Center, and Citrus Bowl renovations. However, although I am very much in favor of bringing MLS Soccer to Orange County, I would not have voted in favor of using $20 million of TDT dollars to fund the building of the MLS Stadium. I also would have objected to the MLS Stadium funding being wrapped into a single package, which included Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Citrus Bowl renovations, international and sports ads, etc. This in my opinion should have been separated for individual consideration.
FT: Recently, One of the Commissioners proposed major changes to the County Charter that dealt with everything from expanding the number of Commissioners on the Board to raising petition requirements. What are your thoughts on that proposal?
Greg Jackson: I actually see some positives in the Charter Amendment. Specifically, Commissioner Brummer points out that Orange County’s population has increased significantly in the past 28 years from 600,000 to 1.2 million residents. That increase of over half a million residents, which will continue to grow in the future, places a huge burden on the commissioners; in District 2 there are over 100,000 residents with diverse needs for one commissioner to represent. Moreover, I agree that the Board of County Commissioners does not reflect the diversity of our growing community. I believe this specific portion of the Amendment will give residents more access to their elected officials and will allow for a Board that reflects the community it serves. As for the other areas, I will be listening very intently at the upcoming meetings.
FT: You’ve been doing a lot of campaigning in Lockhart recently, that’s where I grew up. If you’re Commissioner, what are your area-specific plans for that community?
Greg Jackson: As Commissioner, my plans for Lockhart are exactly the same as those I have for the entire District 2 area. I have already began developing relationships with small business owners and corporations to facilitate job creation in District 2. With those relationships I am also putting together youth mentoring and work programs to help our children prepare for the future. In addition, I frequently visit the various cities and communities that make up District 2 to determine the areas that are most conducive for smart, effective growth plans so that we can make use of the major roadways while respecting the environmental treasurers in our area. I want to promote the rich history found throughout the District in Apopka, Eatonville, Lockhart, Ocoee, etc., to build pride in our area that will attract businesses and vistors through tourism, agriculture, education, and even attract new areas such as manufacturing and simulation to District 2. Lastly, I will work to support our true community servants: teachers, fire fighters and law enforcement. I want to ensure we kept our talented community servants with us by providing necessary resources and supporting competitive salaries.
FT: Finally, I always like to end my interviews on a positive note. What is something the voters might not know about you or your campaign?
Greg Jackson: The one thing I pride myself on is that this campaign is working in and for the Orange County District 2, now. When residents, community leaders or business owners bring issues to my attention, instead of saying “When I am elected . . .” I go to work on finding a solution to the issue almost immediately. From education to development to small business issues and many more, this campaign has been working and making a difference in the lives of residents and business owners since day one of the campaign. I am here to serve, not be served. I have a beautiful supportive family who understands this and I am deeply appreciative of their sacrifice.
I’d like to thank Mr. Jackson for taking the time to interview with FPFT. Every candidate is invited to interview with this blog and it’s one of my favorite parts of this job. Also running in District 2 are Bryan Nelson, Alvin Moore, Patricia Rumph, Prince Brown and Bridgett Sykes.