Today's date is January 17, 2020

Orange County Commissioner, District 5 Update

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Another race to watch in 2020 will be Orange County Commission, District 5. Emily Bonilla is the current Commissioner for the District and will face stiff competition in 2020. Bonilla has been accused of being aloof and inconsistent and she’s had more than 8 aides since taking office in 2016.

Bonilla’s most recent dust up came over the summer when an aide sent out a “Happy Memorial Day” email blast to Bonilla’s constituents. Bonilla quickly corrected the aide’s email as she took umbrage to the word “happy” being included in her Memorial Day message. The aide resigned soon after.

She also made news for wanting to combat a mosquito problem with bats.

Because of the perceived inconsistency from Bonilla’s office, she’s drawn three opponents so far: Winter Park Mayor Steven Leary, Sonja Spradling, and Anjali Vaya. And while Bonilla is certainly formidable, she will have one of the toughest paths to reelection in 2020.

She’s raised nearly $40,000 so far and spent close to $20,000, and while that’s a decent start, she’s already behind her opponents.

Since Leary and Vaya have filed, they have raised a combined $202,000. Leary filed in September of 2019 and raised $34,000 his first month on the race. Vaya filed a month before Leary and came out strong with $47,000 during her first month. Leary has $128,000 in his campaign account and Vaya isn’t far behind with more than $70,000.

While money isn’t everything in a political race (Bonilla can attest to this), it does help to spread one’s message. Leary’s report is littered with notable contributors, like Mears, City Cab, and Baker & Hostetler. Bonilla has the likes of Disney, Joshua Wallack (Mangos), and James Pugh.

With January officially starting a new election cycle, how much more money will flow into a county commission race with a growing field of candidates? Better yet, how will Bonilla handle being in such a monetarily hostile race?

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