It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three years since Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill was elected to office. Still one of these most unlikely political victories in recent memory, Hill who’s youth featured a long arrest record, overcame a better funded candidate who was the son of a longtime incumbent, with a powerful message of opportunity for an embattled community.
Since taking office in 2014, she estimates that she’s had close to 5000 meetings. During her recent interview with OPO Publisher Doug Kaplan, her office was full of visitors including a local small restaurant owner who stopped in to say “hi” to his Commissioner without an appointment.
“For me it’s a melting pot.” she begins talking about the different parts of district 5 “I celebrate the fact that I’ve had 5000 meetings. I try not to turn anyone away. I remember I was that person trying to get in these doors.”
Hill’s seat includes the Parramore Neighborhood which during her time in office has seen a new soccer stadium, improved local programs like the Parramore Kidz Zone, and soon the new Creative Village, which will serve as a window of education to a part of Orlando that was often overlooked in the past.
“There is a lot of good things going on in district 5.” she continues “Jobs, non-profits, economic development that I support. The boots are on the ground.”
There has been tragedy as well. Hill’s daughter, Arvonni DeBose, was attacked and later died in 2015 while in Tallahassee, leaving behind her young son who the Commissioner is now raising. A painting of her daughter sits on the wall behind her as she describes how much she misses her.
“She’s a beautiful soul and I miss her daily.” says Hill adding that she works with advocacy groups and is supporting legislation to protect victims. “She lives on.”
OPD Lieutenant Debra Clayton who was allegedly murdered by Markeith Loyd earlier this year, was also once the District 5 Liaison for Hill, who the commissioner called a 21st century police officer who made extra attempts to build a relationship in the community.
Regarding the decision of Orange Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala to not seek the death penalty in the case, Hill respects the office saying “She has the ability to apply the law as she sees fit.”
There is a fight waiting for Hill this November with elections looming, consisting of a field that already includes five challengers, all hoping they can be the next challenger from district 5 to knock off an incumbent.
“It’s something I’m doing right. I’ve made the seat look sexy.” says Hill about the competition “It’s a lot of hard work that I’ve put in and now the community is engaged. They’re inspired and they want to make a difference.”
If reelected, Hill hopes to continue to roll out a $2 million dollar package for family homes in Paramore while enhancing education initiatives and continuing to work on economic development.
“If it wasn’t for support of the council, the staff and the Mayor many of these initiatives wouldn’t be possible. It’s a collaborative effort.” she says in closing.
You can view the video from the interview below..