This is the second of a three-part interview series with Derrick Wallace- Candidate in the race for Orange County Commission–District 6
Conducted by: West Orlando News Online
Date: April 16, 2014
WONO: In his most recent State of the City address, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said one of the challenges facing the city is homelessness. The same is true of Orange County. You also touched on the issue in last month’s Forum. If elected, what are your thoughts on how the growing problem of homelessness should be tacked?
Derrick Wallace: I know homelessness is a big issue. I know having less support for housing creates higher levels of homelessness for people in our district since we seem to accumulate the homeless population. It’s very important that we identify resources, ways to increase more housing within District 6. One thing I think that’s very important is, we make the homeless situation become an emergency, or critical item as far as the city or county is concerned. I don’t think they take it as anything being critical to the importance of being a great city or great county. It’s something that they look at, sadly, as “over there,” but nobody of any substance is complaining, therefore nothing is done. I guess you can say there’s no squeaky wheel squeaking. It’s a serious problem that really you don’t have to do anything about because nobody is really complaining.
However, if you put it at the forefront of the city where the world can see what the problem is, I think it can get some attention. I feel that the Venues could have had some component of affordable housing, as they were developed, because they are displacing people in the communities, taking their homes. Now you have the soccer stadium coming in the area. To have a component that some of the funds, or a prerequisite for using this money, that some of it should have gone for building affordable housing, I think would have been a very good thing. That could have been done for this community and also for the city of Orlando, District 5. That’s where all of these things are going on and they need to be addressed in a serious way.
WONO: There’s a lot of talk about raising the minimum wage. President Obama has been pushing for an increase in the federal minimum wage up to $10.10. There are bills filed in the Legislature in Tallahassee to increase Florida’s minimum wage. Some argue that increasing the minimum wage would drive up prices and slow job growth, while others say it will spur economic growth. What are your thoughts on raising the minimum wage in Florida?
Derrick Wallace: There is no doubt that the minimum wage should be raised nationally, and within the State, County, and City. There’s no way that people can survive on the minimum wage that’s basically low. How can you fight against it? I really don’t understand, and on the other hand you have Republicans, and probably some Democrats who don’t care. There are business owners who I would say know that people need jobs, and they would rather have a job at any wage, because they know these people will continue to work. They are not going to strike. But, this has to end.
As a commissioner, I would definitely vote for an increase in the minimum wage; wages are definitely too low in the hospitality sector where the majority of people are working. It is no different than the Davis-Bacon laws that the government has in terms of raising the minimum wage when you are involved with a government project, which pay wages significantly higher than the wages that are standard wages.
WONO: Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in his State of the City address talked about diversifying the economy and making the city more tech oriented. Mayor Jacobs too, has underscored the importance of diversifying the economy and branding Orange County. What are your thoughts on economic diversification, particularly in tech? And how would you go about creating a higher skilled workforce?
Derrick Wallace: I think it’s great if they can diversify, but it starts with the quality of education the community has. You have kids graduating from high schools with degrees who are not trained toward high tech jobs at all. I would like to see Jones High School as a trade school – not a trade school in the sense of construction jobs, but trade school in terms of allowing kids to get training for masonry, electrical and high tech jobs prior to graduating from high school. Therefore, they will have an opportunity to succeed because they do have some training to go right into a job. It is not enough just to talk and not specify how it will be done.
With regard to branding, that is what District 6 has to do – brand itself in terms of what assets it has – the quality of the employment base, the quality of people that can work in different types of areas and the access in terms of land that is available for a company to come in. So, rather than go to Lake Nona, come to Washington Shores and build a facility where they believe they can get people.
Now, they talk about bussing people from Washington Shore to Lake Nona, well if you can find a firm that will come here, they don’t have to be bussed so far. They create these little niches that don’t help District 6. The District has to do this on its own because no one is trying to work with them – create a plan for how they can succeed. The entire district of stakeholders, all the people who are concerned about this need to come together and basically develop that plan and then execute it.
WONO: Crime remains a problem in Orange County, including in District 6. We have seen two law enforcement officers gunned down within a six-week period. What do you think can be done to help reduce crime and improve the quality of life for residents?
Derrick Wallace: I believe a lot of the crime comes back to the state of mind in terms of how people live – lower paying jobs, underemployment, lack of quality education – these are things that I think are at the foundation of kids, or adults, for killing, shooting, robbing, breaking into places and stuff like that. They feel helpless and just like I talked about the homeless situation, Orlando tries to look over these things, they are not in the forefront of being an issue with them, they cover them up. No one talks about the problems. The shootings are something that’s right there in your face, so you see that kind of stuff. But the real crime rate in terms of Orange County, including District 6, would be lower if, again, we had a better educational system that provided kids opportunity to get a job when they graduate.
I think that you have to work with your county sheriffs and police departments, do neighborhood watch, those kinds of things and working as a community to try to deal with drug problems. But I think the foundation for crime is lack of opportunity for a job, lack of training, and of course education, to get a job. Therefore, these kids don’t feel they could succeed or have any opportunity; they don’t feel like their quality of life could ever be anything.
WONO: On May 1, SunRail will begin operating officially. Will this new transit option help to ease the burden for those residents in District 6 that depend on public transportation? And if not, what can be done and does LYNX have a role here?
Derrick Wallace: I don’t know a lot about SunRail, but I think it is the first piece of the transportation system that ultimately provides a basis to get people where they want to go throughout the county.
I’m understanding that buses will provide the connectivity to SunRail, but I really don’t see it solving the problem for people today, because it is just one line, and everybody works east or west of it. We’ve got buses now that cover pretty much those areas. But I think they are planning things in the future to provide better connections east and west from the SunRail.
WONO: What are your thoughts on the Orlando City District 5 race? Six to ten voters rejected Juan Lynum, the son of sitting Commissioner Daisy Lynum, in a three-way race. Now Lynum, who is running on his mother’s legacy, is in a run-off with Regina Hill, a candidate who has had a troubled past. How do you view the race?
Derrick Wallace: I looked at it in a lot of ways. Six in ten voted against Juan Lynum, but you could say 63 percent voted against Regina Hill if you wanted to add Cynthia Harris’ total to Juan’s. Also, you could have had 74 percent against Cynthia Harris. What the race said was, it’s really time for a change. People are tired of what normally has been an automatic win for Daisy Lynum. Personally, I don’t think that she should have left as she did, and that is, allowing her son to slide under a door without giving the community a chance to maybe consider it. I’m not saying that these young ladies are not qualified. I think in qualifying that means you are 18 and meet the other requirements to run. Are you the best candidates? I’m not speaking to that either. But to not allow the community to offer other choices because of the way she has handled races over the past 16 years. People knew that if you got in the race with her, you’d better be cleaner than Mr. Clean. If there is one thing that she and her son and I know – her son is the one who gave the information to Mark Schlueb, about her (Hill) 21 arrests.
A story has been told that here is a young lady [Hill] that, at a young age did a lot of things she regrets today. She went into the service for her country, came back and became a nurse for 23 years, and then went on to become involved in her community, trying to give back and work in the community. That’s one story that could have been told. But, another story was told about her [Hill] arrests, which was just something to tear down her character, or tank her character.
Cynthia Harris is not in the race anymore. Now Juan has changed his approach; he says he is not running on Daisy’s legacy anymore, he’s not running on his mother’s record anymore. He is taking his own approach and has thrown his mother’s legacy under the bus. Previously, it was all about, “My mom has got a good record.”
I think the young lady [Hill] has a good chance of winning. I think a lot of people were surprised she did as well as she did. Now it’s up to which one can really get the votes.
WONO: Voters are looking for more accountability from their elected officials. If elected, how would you go about holding yourself more accountable to the people?
Derrick Wallace: I’m not sure that people want to hold elected officials accountable. I personally have not seen that because they elect the same ones over and over. If you look around Orange County, none of them do anything. Now, how I can be accountable to the people? I intend to be an advocate for District 6 and the County. I can’t focus just on District 6, I have to be a commissioner that works with all the county commissioners to, hopefully, allow me to execute my agenda, which includes District 6.
For the people within the community, I will be having town hall meetings once a month throughout the community, at different places, to allow them to come in and voice their concerns at any time. At those town hall meetings if we can’t address their questions, then their questions will be answered, or replied to within a month, or at the next town hall meeting.
Where my campaign office is located, it is my desire to maintain that space to remain a part of the community to allow people to come in as they please, to talk to someone or to me, if I’m there, and express their concerns. I think it is important to do that because, a lot of people are intimidated by having to go down to the County and go through whatever processes they go through. I’m trying to make it a business friendly opportunity just for people to come where they live and express their issues and views.
I intend to address business opportunities that have not been addressed before, for small businesses in District 6. That doesn’t just relate to Orange County projects. As a County Commissioner I feel I have a right to weigh in on any project or agency within Orange County where, in my opinion, they’re not being a community citizen by assisting and working with the small businesses in this district.
WONO: Final question: How is your campaign going? And why should voters elected Derrick Wallace as their next Orange County Commissioner?
Derrick Wallace: I think the campaign is going very well. The excitement that we have with the people who volunteer, the commitment they have in this is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. You have volunteers that are engaged almost like a job where they have parts of our plan, which they are responsible for executing. They approach it not just from a volunteer stand point, but they approach it from, “We’ve got to do this to get Derrick elected”. I don’t think there is anyone that has volunteered that we can’t count on any time we need to, to do things.
I think our game plan in terms of utilization of signs has been fantastic. If you think about where we were back in September, I can now walk into a store and somebody will say, “Aren’t you Derrick Wallace?” So, the signs are working well. When you talk about 16,000 fans being in churches, you know, people with fans with my face on it, on Sunday. When you talk about 1,500 yard signs out and other people are requesting yard signs. We are also just getting organized with social media, sending out blogs, videos, Facebook and emails. We are a very organized organization.
So, I think we are doing fine. We aren’t letting up. The fish fries we are holding once-a-month show that people keep buying, so I think we are doing fine.
Voters should elect Derrick Wallace if they want a change from the way things have been for the past 16 years. If they want an advocate that will fight for them to change things, or to deal with issues that have just been lying on the table for years such as, lack of job opportunities in Orange County and lack of educational opportunities in order to be able to get a job when you graduate from high school. If they are looking for an advocate because they want to see things change, then they can vote for Derrick Wallace.
WONO: Thank you.
Derrick Wallace: Thank you, too.
MORE ON DERRICK WALLACE
Derrick Wallace is the Chairman and Owner of Construct Two Group (CTG). CTG, a construction management firm was founded in 1990. Through the leadership of Mr. Wallace, the company has grown to a medium size Florida corporation. CTG provides construction services to a diverse clientele including some of Central Florida’s most prestigious organizations.
Mr. Wallace has served as project executive on many of CTG’s projects. He is a hands-on leader who continuously challenges his project teams to provide quality services and to fulfill the needs of the surrounding community.
Mr. Wallace continues his community-minded philosophy by involving himself in many noteworthy organizations. He is currently active with 100 Black Men of Orlando, Inc. An organization established to improve the quality of life in the African American community through educational and economic opportunities.
Mr. Wallace served as Chairman of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission’s Education Foundation. In 2002, Mr. Wallace served as a Commissioner for the Orange County Transportation Commission and as Commissioner for the Governor’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform. In 2001, he was appointed to serve an annual term as the first minority Chairman of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC), a private-public commission that works to attract businesses to the area and helps existing businesses expand. He has also been involved with the following boards: Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (P.R.I.D.E), Florida Chamber of Commerce, Businessforce, Central Florida Innovation Corporation, Central Florida Technology Partnership and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida.
Mr. Wallace has dedicated himself to helping other minority/women business enterprises succeed. He was a founding trustee and member of the Minority/Women Business Enterprise Alliance and the Businesses for Better Education. Recently, he served as the President of the Orange County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
– Lifetime Orlando Native
– Educated District 6 Schools
- Eccleston Elementary School
- Jones High School
Florida A & M University
BS – Accounting – Magna Cum Laude Graduate
Construct Two Group
– Certified General Contractor
St. Mark A.M.E. Church
Former Business Organizations
- First Chairman – Mayor’s Martin Luther King Commission
- Chairman – Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission
- Chairman – Goodwill Industries of Central Florida
- Chairman Central Florida Innovation Corporation,
- Chairman Central Florida Technology Partnership
- Chairman – Economic Development Commission Foundation for Education, Inc
- Chairman – Private Industry Council of Central Florida, Inc
- Board of Governors – Florida Chamber of Commerce
- President – Orange County Branch of the NAACP
- 100 Black Men of Orlando – Board of Directors and Founding Member
- Businesses for Better Education – Founding Trustee
- Minority/Women Business Enterprise Alliance – Founding Trustee
- National Association of Minority Contractors (N.A.M.C.) – Board of Directors
- Central Florida Jobs and Education Partnership, Inc. – Board of Directors
- African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida – Board of Directors
- Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce – Board of Directors
- Florida Chamber of Commerce – Board of Directors
- Orange County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- Boys and Girls Club
- St. Mark AME Church
- Commissioner, Governor’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform
- Commissioner, Orange County Transportation Commission
- African American Contractor’s Alliance – Vice President
- Mayor’s Commission on the Arts – Commissioner
- The Associated General Contractors of America
- Airport Minority Advisory Council
- Partner in Education
- National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Inc.
- Associated Builders and Contractors of Central Florida
- Leadership Orlando, Class 1988-89
- Leadership Central Florida, Inaugural Class, 1995
- Leadership Florida, Class XVI, 1998
- Florida A&M University Distinguished Alumni in Business Award
- Distinguished Leadership Alumni Award from the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce – 2002
- The Community Leadership Association Distinguished Leadership Award – 2004
- Largest African American Construction Management Firm in Florida
- Orlando Business Journal’s list of Central Florida’s Golden 100-Fast 5 – 2008
- Minority Enterprise Advocate Magazine “100 Fastest Growing Businesses” – 2006
- Regional Supplier of the Year from the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Inc -2000
- #4 Ranking on Inc. Magazine’s “Inner City 100 List” for fastest growing firm – 2000
- #31 ranking on Inc. Magazine’s 500 List of fastest growing private firm – 1999
- #5 ranking on Inc. Magazine’s Inner City 100 List of fastest growing privately firm 1999
- #64 ranking on Inc. Magazine’s 500 List of fastest growing privately held companies in America – 1998
- “Small Business Person of the Year” from the North Florida Small Business Administration – 1998
- “Top 25” Small Business Award, Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce – 1998
- Walt Disney World MBE Contractor of the Year Award – 2005
- Board of Directors Award, Central Florida YMCA Black Achievers – 2002
- Regional Supplier of the Year from the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Inc – 2000
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR DERRICK WALLACE
Derrick Wallace Campaign Headquarters (Next to St. Mark A.M.E Church)
2000 Bruton Blvd
Orlando, Florida 32811
10:00am to 12:00 pm
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
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