Gray, Stuart reelected to City Commission without fight

Orlando Ctiy Commissioners Robert Stuart and Jim Gray will continue to serve their respective districts after being reelected without opposition.

Both Commissioners, for the most part, have steered clear of controversy and tend to be on the same page as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The City Council tends to govern a little friendlier the their more aggressive cousins on the County Commission.

The biggest votes for the council the last year, was the passage of the 94.5 million dollar venues package to fun the Performing Arts Center Construction, Citrus Bowl Renovations, and a new MLS Soccer Stadium. The council also voted to give themselves a pay increase last year, albeit a smaller raise than they originally asked for.

This will be Stuart’s 3rd term serving D3 and Gray’s first complete term, since replacing former Commissioner Phil Diamond who ran against Mayor Dyer in 2012, and prompted a special election in District 1 which Gray won.

That leaves the only drama on the Orlando municipal election scene in District 5, where long time Commissioner Daisy Lynum is expected to withdraw on Monday. Her son, Attorney Juan Lynum filed to run on Friday, setting up a temporary moment where a Mother is running against her Son.

Gray and Stuart were both reelected without opposition

Gray and Stuart were both reelected without opposition

The Top 5 Take-Aways from Today’s Orange County State Delegation Meeting

This afternoon, State Legislators met in Downtown Orlando to listen to constituent concerns, just a few weeks before the busy legislative session begins and sets the table for an election cycle where many of these lawmakers will need support from the voters to stay in Office.

The Delegation meeting Chaired by Darren Soto D-Orlando, included his local colleagues from the State Senate and members of the Florida House. Those present included State Sen. Andy Gardiner R-Orlando, Alan Hays R-Umatilla, Geraldine Thompson D-Orlando and Kelli Stargell R-Lakeland, State Reps. Present were Bruce Antone D-Orlando, Randolph Bracy D-Orlando, Linda Stewart D-Orlando, Joe Saunders D-Orlando, Karen Castor-Dentel D-Maitland, Victor Torres D-Orlando, and Tom Goodson R-Cocoa.

Bryan Nelson R-Apopka was an excused absence and Florida House 44 is vacant due to the resignation of Stephen Precourt.

The 2 and a half hour meeting included a discussion about many of the issues. These are the top 5 take-aways from the meeting.

1. There could be some changes coming to the Delegation, including a possible Executive Director, Meetings in Tallahassee, and clarification for absences: Thompson led the charge for these possible changes but was quickly challenged by Gardiner. “Who would pay this director?” Gardiner asked Thompson in one of the more tense moments of the meeting. There was a short silence before Thompson replied that a director would be picked only if it was needed. There was concern for holding meetings in Tally because it would be out of reach for local public comment. Thompson said she was emulating rules in other county delegations. Response for excused absence was mum. This move could have been motivated by Republicans opting out of the Obamacare townhall late last year. Senator Thompson was publicly upset that her colleagues across the aisle did not attend. A 3 person ad-hoc committee was established to investigate the possibilities. Those appointed were Tom Goodson, Joe Saunders, and Geraldine Thompson herself.

2. Legislation for victims of Domestic Violence found support from the delegation: Former State Representative Dick Batchelor addressed the panel promoting legislation that would keep the victim’s names of Domestic Violence crimes confidential. There was also another push that would allow prosecution of Domestic Violence perpetrators who threatened victims from out of the area such as phone calls from prison and other communications. Karen Castor-Dentel is sponsoring the former measure in the House with State Senator David Simmons R-Altamonte Springs and Torres sponsoring the latter.

3. Immigration Issues will be on the radar of most of the delegation this session
: There was public comment from a member of the Hispanic community who’s life was personally being effected by certain Immigration Issues that failed last session. Driver’s licenses, health care, and in state tuition for “Dreamers” or children of the undocumented gained verbal support from Bracy, Saunders, Castor-Dentel, Soto, and Torres.

4. Protecting Student Athletes: The most emotional public comment of the hearing came from a mother who lost her child due to a heart condition that was not detected until he passed away during a school sporting event. She asked the board to please support regulation that would make an inexpensive EKG test a mandatory condition for participation in school sports. Her comments were well received by the board.

5. Keeping the Governor’s Veto Pen Away: There were a large amount of speakers that wanted to avoid the line item veto from Governor Rick Scott on the final budget. Education programs that allow the government to match private sector donations, pedestrian overpasses that protect the public, and Kidz Zones projects that had documented success in keeping juveniles out of trouble were all represented.

Bonus- Attendance was still low: With a dozen State Lawmakers in listening mode, turnout was still poor. With only about half the chamber full at the beginning of the meeting and about 20 people in attendance when the meeting was adjourned a half hour early, clearly these events are being promoted well enough.

I spoke with Representative Goodson after the meeting and he was positive about what he heard. He pointed out the Kidz Zone programs “I think it’s a worthy cause and I think the Governor will be more receptive this year”. He also continued to promote his goal of making revenge porn illegal in the state. “It’s not just from younger people, you see it more prevalent with older people and it just kills people lives”

Delegation Chair Darren Soto took time to talk afterwards and spoke about possible rule changes with the delegation “We wanted to make sure that if we passed any bylaws, everyone would agree with them. We didn’t want to ram anything through. We’re going to make sure this thing is cooked the right way before going forward” He also voiced his support for in-state tuition for Dreamers “It’s an important issue in our district”.


Delegation meeting orange

Interview with Edward DeAguilera Candidate for State Senate District 12

I’m happy to continue our Interview Series today! We continue with our first segment with a candidate for the State Senate this year, and it’s a good one.

Edward DeAguilera is running for Senate in District 12 seat and he had a lot to say about his contest and what he would like to accomplish if elected by the people in November.

Here we go!

FT: Hello Mr. DeAugilera! How is the campaign going? What are you hearing from District 12 voters while campaigning?

Edward DeAguileara: We are doing FANTASTIC! This early on we’ve focused on fundraising and as one would see on my financial reports, district residents believe we need a change in our representation and are investing in my campaign. The majority of my contributions are from voters in the district, not special interests or lobbyist. Additionally, we will start our neighborhood walks and coffees in the coming weeks. I’m especially excited about this phase of our grassroots campaign because it’s the one on one time with voters.

FT: You’ve said “We do not need to transform our Country, we need to change the way we do politics.” in your correspondence and on-line. Could you give us some example of some changes we need in Tallahassee?

DeAguilera: I believe government sometimes loses sight of its purpose because they get so wrapped up in big picture objects. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have a game plan, but it’s equally important to remember how implemented policy (laws) affect people on an everyday basis. My objective is to always be the voice for our communities while still working towards moving the State of Florida forward. True transparency and effective communication for constituents is crucial. Let us utilize social media and other forms of traditional forms of communication to inform our residents with updates in Tallahassee.

FT: If you’re elected, what committees can you see yourself on in the State Senate? Also, what issues will you be paying extra attention to during session this year?

DeAguilera: Florida faces many complex issues and ALL truly effect the residents of District 12. Some key issues will be the status of gambling in Florida, education funding, the reliance of Citizens insurance, and expanding true economic development with full transparency in the State. Some of the committees with a special interest would be: Commerce & Tourism, Children, Families and Elder Affairs and Community Affairs. We need to make sure that the voice of the residents of District 12 are truly represented in Tallahassee.

FT: Now, you’re going up against an incumbent that’s been in the State Legislature in some capacity for a few years now. Why should voters make the switch and send you to Tallahassee?

DeAguilera: For too many years residents of the district have settled for status quo – this is simply not acceptable, We CAN do better. I think it is also important to point out that this district needs a leader, one who can think in creative ways to ensure a great education, support the entrepreneurial spirit and one who can assist in bringing jobs to our community. The State of Florida is facing complex issues and we need individuals who is willing to tackle these issues, to create an environment that will allow individuals hope, encouragement and acceptance through advocacy, education and awareness so that each may realize their potential as members of our community.

FT: I always like to end on a happy and positive note. What is something the voters might not know about Edward DeAguilera or his campaign?

DeAguilera: I’m not only a native Floridian… I’m a native of this district (as are my 2 children)!I have the honor of being raised in the district, went to school in the district, I even work in District 12. I truly understand our community and have seen this area change with growth and how our community has had an explosion of diversity. This area is so special to me as my kids both attend schools in the district and is a place that I am honored to call HOME! I truly believe that serving your community is a calling and so proud to have worked in the nonprofit arena for nearly 15 years. Service to our community is truly a calling!


I’d like to thank Mr. DeAguilera for taking the time to interview with FPFT and we’ll hear from him again in a few months. He’s competing in D12 against Fritz Jackson Seide in the Republican primary and the winner will face Incumbent Geraldine Thompson in November. Both of them have also been invited to interview with me.

Edward DeAguilera Florida State Senate district 12

Orange County State Delegation Meeting on Thursday January 30th

Next Thursday, you can see all of your favorite State Lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican at the Orange County Delegation meeting at the Orange County Administration Building from 3pm to 6pm.

The delegation meeting, chaired by State Senator Geraldine Thompson, features State Senators Andy Gardiner, Alan Hays, Kelli Stargell, and Darren Soto. State Representatives Bryan Nelson, Tom Goodson, Bruce Antone, Randolph Bracy, Karen Castor-Dentel, Joe Saunders, Linda Stewart, and Victor Torres should also be on hand.

District 44 will have no representation this time around. The Windermere area’s Representative Stephen Precourt resigned to accept a position on the Orlando Orange County Expressway board. There is a special election set for March and April for a primary and general contest respectively

The County describes the purpose of these meetings as “The primary focus of our office is dedicated to organizing and coordinating the joint activities of Orange County’s 16 delegates to the State Legislature in Tallahassee as well as providing assistance and information to members of the Delegation and their staff, the offices of the Orange County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, and obtaining answers to our residents’ legislative inquiries.”

Really, it’s best way to see all of your state lawmakers in the same place without driving to Tallahassee during the legislative session. They’re also pretty good about staying after a few minutes the answer questions.

There is also a public comments portion of the meeting which always provides a little drama and most of these members have opponents for reelection this year, so you might be able to spot a few candidates and operatives in the crowd.

It’s also the last meeting before session. If you’ve got concerns, now is the time to let them be known.

HERE is a link to the County’s meeting page. I’ll see you there.

Putnam in Orlando, Fundraising, Banging Drum to Bring Rodeo Finals to Kissimmee

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has been in Central Florida this week, fundraising for his reelection campaign and promoting Kissimmee in a bid to bring the biggest Rodeo event in the world to the region.

Last night, Putnam and his supporters held a fundraiser at the swanky One 80 Grey Goose Lounge at the Amway Center. He’s an early heavy favorite for reelection with no real impressive opposition at this point. Despite constituent service challenges, the biggest buzz surrounding Florida’s GOP rising star is what his next political move will be. He’s already been a member of Congress and insiders believe he can be a strong candidate for Governor in the future. He’s only 39 years old and has the charisma to rally support.

This morning, Putnam, Florida Governor Rick Scott and the rest of the cabinet were pushing to bring the National Rodeo Finals to Kissimmee. The Osceola County Commission recently floated the idea of building a brand new stadium in the area to lure the event to Central Florida. They’ve manged to sell out the “Superbowl of Rodeo” in Las Vegas for the last 27 years. Osceola means business. They donated 1 million dollars for the new Soccer Stadium in Orange County in an attempt to have the Amway Center host the event until a venue could be built.

The AG Commissioner posted this photo on his FB this morning.