This is the final part 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: June 19, 2014
WONO: Mayor Teresa Jacobs in her State of Orange County address on June 6, talked a lot about branding the County. In fact, they are rolling out a new branding campaign which says, “Orlando, you don’t know the half of it.” As you have campaigned, you have talked a lot about branding District 6. Why is it important to brand District 6 and what do you have in mind?
Derrick Wallace: In my opinion, the only way you are going to change things in District 6 is to let people know what the assets are in district. As I put together a team of stakeholders to address the issues in District 6, and ways to improve it, we have to develop a positive story on what can be accomplished in District 6, and that’s how I look at branding it. Now, I don’t think the branding that Orange County is doing or City of Orlando is doing has anything to do with District 6. When I’m elected to office we have to do an evaluation of the opportunities within District 6. I want to do a Neighborhood Improvement District plan for the whole of District 6. I think it is very important, no different from what they had done for Downtown South. We need to bring the best and the brightest together and determine how District 6 can be improved.
WONO: Another thing which is important is economic diversification of the County. Again, the Mayor also talks about this in her Address – efforts to diversify – modeling and simulation, the Medical City, Orange County being a magnet for high-tech companies – all of this she mentioned in her Address. In District 6, many of the residents are low-skilled. Do you see diversification into these areas affecting them? What are your thoughts on how the skill-base might be improved?
Derrick Wallace: Obviously we have a serious issue with education for people living in District 6. The kids in the area face a lot of different challenges – inadequate food, homeless kids, homeless adults, the kids’ parents are young and lack of support opportunities from various agencies to help them along. But I look at it in a positive way where, if some of the things they put in at Lake Nona – a Research Park and also at UCF – if these things were bought to District 6, it would start a change. In the District, you’ve got a university that’s almost within walking distance, you’ve got an Interstate Highway, I-4, you’ve got the East-West Expressway and the Turnpike – you’ve got all of these things around District 6, but it’s all still looked at as being negative. I think it’s a positive. You’ve also got Universal right on the outskirts, again, almost within walking distance from a lot of people.
So, it goes back to the branding that we are talking about. People don’t brand us as being a good place to locate anything and I think there hasn’t been an assessment of properties available. Lake Nona was woods, but they made the area into what it is and if they wanted to make District 6 a beautiful place to live, then they can do that too. Yes, we still have a problem with education, but I think as far as the change where people are feeling better about the area, I think the people of the district love District 6, it’s the people who don’t live here that are negative about the area. And it’s the neglect that I feel that the County and the City has given to this area in terms of providing opportunities to make progress.
WONO: Homelessness is a growing problem in Orange County. It affects children, families, veterans, those suffering from mental health problems, drug abusers and more. How might the homeless problem be tackled?
Derrick Wallace: I think the first think is to stop talking and get to work doing something about the problem. I think that’s what it is. You say there’s a problem, but you don’t address the problem. When you wanted to develop a stadium you found the money on the first day. When you wanted to build a Performing Art Center, the community and city and county came up with the money. The government doesn’t look at the homeless seriously as an issue. They know it is present in the ‘world class city,’ but they hide it. I don’t have all the solutions because, I’m not an elected official yet, but some attention has to be given to it. I think when they did the deal on the Soccer Stadium, all the money was not Tourist Development Tax (Tourist Development Tax) money, but they throw it around like it was TDT money. It was not all TDT money. I think some kind of deal could’ve been made on how to provide some housing as a part of that deal to help the community.
When you talk about homelessness and you talk about people who lack housing, lack apartments, one of the things that I want to push for would be what they call a Public Bank. Now, a Public Bank is a bank basically that’s developed using the funding of the County, City, or Orange County Public Schools. It’s governmental money that we’re putting somewhere, perhaps on Wall Street where it’s invested. This money can create a bank that can be used to create jobs, provide opportunities for small businesses, and this is not in competition with local banks. Local banks will work in conjunction with this bank, so you’re not trying to take business away from a local bank. But this is money that’s sitting somewhere that the County is getting interest on that can be used to develop housing, to lower the debt on some projects that local municipalities can use. Orange County and the School Board (OCPS) are two of the largest organizations in this county and I think that just a little money can solve the housing situation. There’s an organization that is looking at helping around the Citrus Bowl, well that’s not the only problem in District 6 Orange County, or District 6 City, I’m not sure which one it’s in. But, that’s not the only issue or problem with housing. Orange Center is not the only place that needs help. So, that’s why I’m saying the entire County needs to be assessed for what these issues are and attention needs to be given to that.
WONO: I had the opportunity to interview outgoing District 6 Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell. In her view, one of the biggest challenges any incoming commissioner would face is the conservative nature of the Board of County Commissioners. You need three (3) more votes to get anything passed. How will you manage that relationship and could you be effective in securing programs and projects for District 6?
Derrick Wallace: In my opinion she concedes defeat before she really acts. I think it’s a true statement that you’ve got one vote, but I think you have a vote to understand and speak out on how this community has been neglected for more than 20 years. Because of her position in terms of saying, “well, I’ve got one vote” – it’s still not right. My position will be to speak out for the injustices that have been done and see what happens. So, if you have commissioners who don’t understand a community that has been neglected and communities that are just given everything they want, I’ll speak to that because, it’s like a “squeaky wheel” that gets no grease, but keeps squeaking. I think there’s nothing wrong with me voicing my opinion as far as the County goes.
Again, here is another prime example of no attention being given. You’ve got the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District, where the County Board, which is the Board for the NID, but have never met for three years. Now, you can’t tell me they didn’t have time to meet. You can’t tell me that if they really cared, that they’d want to know what is going on in Pine Hills. Pine Hills, just like a lot of areas, does not have an advocate. With me, I’ll have my one vote, but I’ll be their advocate to speak up for what their needs are.
WONO: If elected what would be your one or two top priorities?
Derrick Wallace: My priority would be to undertake a Plan. My first 100 days would be to try to set up organizations that would participate in the Plan – stakeholders who will be looking at joining the plan. I’m sure it’s going to include the people on International Drive, it’s going to be Pine Hills, Parramore, Tangelo – and all of their issues are a little different, but basically the same thing. I think the biggest task is to understand how we get out of the hole that we’re in. I’ve thought about Pine Hills and they say it’s about $100 million to correct the sewer situation. Well, over 16 years, it shouldn’t have been too much to ask for $6 million annually. So, don’t try to bite the whole thing, but do something. I think that’s what’s important. Let’s analyze it and let’s say we can get $5 million/year so that at the end of another 16 years maybe it’s corrected. It’s how we correct it or not. We’re not going to get a whole lot of money from the federal government to just come in and solve it. But some attention needs to be given to and it shouldn’t be just Pine Hill Road.
WONO: How is your campaign going and why should voters elect Derrick Wallace as their next County Commissioner?
Derrick Wallace: My campaign couldn’t be in a better, it is going fantastically well. We are energized, we got more volunteers than you can think about. Having the campaign headquarters has been a plus too. It’s always active. Although I qualified months ago, we’re getting ready to celebrate my qualifying on Saturday, where people just come out and enjoy themselves and eat free hot dogs and hamburgers.
We’re very organized as we head into the last 60 days of the campaign. In terms of canvassing and phone banking, we feel really comfortable that we are going to win this in August. From the start, you see signs all over the city and now we are getting them up in the County. Some people are getting mad and tearing them down. We have fans in just about any church you go to. That’s been a very good investment. Then, the social media which you’re going to see more of in the coming days and weeks, leading up to the campaign, in terms of Facebook, Instagram and emails going out to the community. So, I feel real good about it. We’re not taking anything for granted as though we won. We’ve still got to win this thing. We’ll know on August 26 that we have it.
WONO: And why should voters elect Derrick Wallace?
Derrick Wallace: Derrick Wallace is a native Orlandoan who grew up in District 6 and has always lived in District 6. I have maintained a business for over 30 years in District 6, educated at Jones High School, and I am the only candidate who, I think, understands the problems of District 6, and is prepared to work on its behalf to change some of the negative things going on.
I have the business experience and have been very successful. I understand economic development and have provided thousands of jobs to people within the community. I’ve given millions of dollars in contracts to small businesses. I’ve served on boards with the people who I think can have an impact on District 6, once they’re focused on the problems in the community.
I’m not running for this to get a job. I’ve invested my own money. I went into this because, I’m doing it for the people and not for special interest groups or anything like that. I’m a committed advocate for District 6.
WONO: Thank you, Mr. Wallace.
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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