Guess what the big story in the the 13 News Room was last night?
It was the David Jolly beating Alex Sink. Guess again.
It was the Apopka Mayor Race. Yes, you heard that right.
The highly publicized, controversial, and fun, yes fun, contest over who would be the next leader of the “Potato Eating Place”. The Home of the Blue Darters (sorry Mustangs). Was the election that had us leaning into the computer screen.
Would the Mayor for most of the last 60 years, John Land finally be defeated? He wasn’t. But he was in 2nd place to former Orlando Sentinel Reporter and PR Rep Joe Kilsheimer by a margin of 48% to 38%.
Just a couple of observations.
Kilsheimer would have won it outright if this weren’t a 4 candidate race: The other two candidates took 14% of the Anti-Land vote from Kilsheimer, keeping him from the 50% margin to avoid the run-off. You’d better believe that both of the remaining contenders will be calling Glen Chancy and Gregg Phillips asking for endorsements. If that happens, tell me, I’ll publish it.
This is a referendum on Land’s Age: No one else will say it but it’s true. Land is 93 years old and while he’s still sharp for that age, it was tough watching him debate 3 other younger challengers. He has trouble recalling facts about the city and elaborating on his platform. I feel terrible for pointing it out but that’s what I’m here for.
Apopka wants an Image Change: “No more Auto Shops and Dollar Stores”. It’s a brilliant phrase used by challengers, because that stretch down OBT towards Downtown is exactly what you’ll see. Arguably, the biggest improvement in the Apopka area for family entertainment was replacing the seats in the Wekiva Riverwalk Movie Theater. A facility I’ve been going to since I was 11. “The APK” has a reputation for being a place that’s behind the times. People are tired of fighting traffic on 436 to get to the Altamonte Mall or taking two-laned Wekiva Springs Road behind someone going 15 miles an hour. I love that town with all my heart (I lived there for a few years) but it’s a punch line for those that never visit. Land has to convince those ready for changes that he can get it done.
They still read the Newspaper in Apopka: Orlando Sentinel Columnists affected the outcome of the Mayor race and a County Commission contest last night. They magnified a mistake made by an incumbent Commissioner who criticized her opponent’s religious belief (who lost) and started the conversation about replacing Land in the first place.
The Best Part of All of This is that we’re talking about Apopka: Important races often go unnoticed. I remember in 2012 when Lawson Lamar and Jeff Ashton were battling for State Attorney with the shadow of Casey Antony over them. Was it a distraction? Absolutely. But it made people pay attention to how much of an important job that State Attorney is. That’s what’s going on here but this time it’s Land’s age and the town’s reputation. Apopka is the 2nd biggest city in Orange County and there is a lot of potential down there. They’re having a great conversation over who will lead them. This is a good thing.