Interview with Eatonville Councilman Alvin Moore – Candidate for Orange County Commission – District 2
Conducted by: West Orlando News Online
Date: November 25, 2013. Updated: January 21, 2014
WONO: Councilman Moore, you are running for the Orange County Commission District 2 seat. Who is Alvin Moore and why are you running for that seat? Could you also share a few highlights of your accomplishments as Councilman?
Alvin Moore: Running for office and for the District 2 seat came naturally to me. I have been doing things politically-related for quite sometime now. For instance, I have sat and still do sit on many boards and I believe the district could use my expertise.
I am not new to politics. I first ran for the councilman seat in Eatonville in 2006 and lost, then ran again one year later against a tough incumbent and won. It was a full-fledged campaign where I systematically knocked on doors, our volunteers registered voters and I talked to residents who asked tough questions of me. I learned a lot during the campaign and since then, having served now six years as a councilman in Eatonville. Running for the District 2 seat is a natural progression.
Regarding my accomplishments, in my first year in office I convened a Crime Symposium and brought together police officers, local elected officials, religious leaders and members of the community to discuss the causes and devise solutions as to how best to tackle crime in the community. And, I am pleased to observe that overtime, the implementation of several of the initiatives – bike patrols by officers, senior citizens making greater use of cell phones, revamping of the Recreations Department – have produced some gains leading to a reduction in crime.
During my second year in office, I identified resources to install benches at bus stops and in my third year, as Chairman of the CRA, worked with Orange County and Duke Energy, to increase the number of renovated homes for senior citizens in need. I also pushed for exemptions for seniors to help lower their property taxes and was successful in doing so.
I have also done quite a bit working to improve health outcomes, particularly as this relates to Diabetes. With 24% of Eatonville residents reporting a history of diabetes and as a diabetic, I have worked closely with the American Diabetes Association, as a volunteer advocate. Also, I was able to secure $115,000 from the Winter Park Health Foundation to convene a couple of heath fairs and educate folks on the disease and how to better control it. The most recent Health Fair was held last November which was attended by 900 people. In that same month too, Winter Park Health Foundation and other partners announced a $1 million donation for establishing a center for health, wellness and diabetes education in Eatonville.
So, in sum, I am ready for new challenges at the county level and to work towards improving the quality of life for residents in District 2. I am accessible and I always hold myself accountable for doing what I say I would do and the votes that I have cast.
WONO: Councilman you touched on crime reduction and I observe too, that this is one of your campaign priorities. Could you expand on that some more? You talked about a Crime Summit, but crime still persists in several areas in District 2. If elected, what plans do you have to bring down the crime levels in areas where they still exist?
Alvin Moore: District 2 is a vast area that is so different. Pine Hills and South Apopka may have some similarities, but when you go to Ocoee, North Apopka, Keller Crossing or Wekiva, they’re very different. Then you have the rural areas. So, there is need for a plan that takes into account each of the different areas.
Crime is concentrated in South Apopka. I believe that one of the factors contributing to crime is the loss of hope of many of our youths and this makes the crimes more violent. That’s what we are seeing in South Apopka. They are not petty thefts, there are not as many break-ins in cars, but you have violent crimes. I think the way to counter that is to make sure that people have hope and jobs. They have to see that people care and it requires a whole cultural change.
There are many organizations, including churches, working in the area and what I think is needed is a symposium that brings everyone together. Those working on job training, restoring civil rights, law enforcement, business leaders, religious organizations – all of the various organizations from which a task force should be formed, to help identify the causes of crime and devise solutions as to how it should be addressed. I can guess that one of the problems is lack of hope, but I don’t know until we actually form a task force and bring everyone together to answer these questions.
There are safe neighborhoods in many areas, like the Pine Hills Redevelopment District and I think we need to make sure they are fully funded with programs to help us move forward. For example, improving the streets – if they’re aesthetically prettier, you’re less likely to commit a crime or do something that is outside of the character of the area that you’re living in. So, I believe, jobs and community revitalization are some of the keys to helping bring down crime further.
WONO: You touched on the lack of jobs and I know that’s a burning issue. We also know there is a huge skills gap. What are your thoughts on trying to bridge that skills gap?
Alvin Moore: We’ve got to get technical education back in schools. Not as a track. I don’t believe that the kids need to be tracked as far as getting half of a degree or half of a diploma. I believe that basic trade skills – like woodwork and auto-mechanics – ought to be taught in schools. However, I don’t want a 13-year-old being tracked to do auto mechanics at that age, because you don’t know where his life is going to go. But as an elective class, it’s a fundamental part of life. We live in a society where there are screws, nuts, and bolts and men should know how to work with them. This is part of technical education which has been dropped from most schools.
WONO: You mentioned that the District is very diverse. You do have as part of that District lots of conservative Tea Party folks. What is your plan to appeal to those potential Tea Party voters and what’s your particular message for them?
Alvin Moore: I was a military brat. My dad was in the Navy. For me, I see things fair and balanced. I see things from a military perspective. I don’t see color. I see how to make a win-win situation for everybody. There doesn’t have to be a loser for there to be a winner, we both can win. A lot of my background and my history is diverse. I went to Good Shepherd Catholic Elementary School, then I went to Glenridge which is a middle-class junior high school. I also went to Winter Park High School, a higher-end high school, then to Howard University which is a historically black college and then to UCF. I see things differently than a lot of people do because of my diverse background. I am able to give everyone a fair and equitable shot, without seeing it in a color or class system. My work background is the same way. I’ve owned a small business and I’ve worked in the corporate world. I’ve worked in economically challenged neighborhoods with the Department of Juvenile Justice and as a Commissioner with the town of Eatonville. I can see things from many different perspectives, understand them and make it a win-win situation for everybody.
WONO: There are four other persons that have filed to run in this particular District. What distinguishes you from your competitors and what does the ‘Moore’ that you have in your campaign slogan which you say you will bring to the Orange County Commission, if elected?
Alvin Moore: I think that as African Americans we have been short-changed a lot of times. In the past, we’ve accepted a trinket or something shiny. I think that we are beyond that and people require substance now. I have a Master’s Degree in Finance and I have been looking at budgets for the last 6 years, so I can hit the ground running. I am not a Johnny-Come-Lately. I have 6 years of direct municipal experience as a councilman. I think that the combination of my experience, my education and background puts me well ahead of my competitors in the race.
I have looked at how the county operates and it is exactly like what the Town of Eatonville does. We vote on resolutions, ordinances, proclamations. We have to implement programs, we have to work with a budget, and we have to balance a budget. All of these things I’ve been doing since 2007, just on a smaller scale. I want to do the same job with bigger numbers at the county level.
WONO: And the “Moore” in the campaign slogan?
Alvin Moore: Straight talk and results. When people ask me what have you done, what can you do? I talk straight. I am not talking around the corner. I am not wishy-washy. It’s substance. I produce. When it comes down to it, I can identify 8 or 10 programs that I’ve done in Eatonville. I don’t need to be reinvented, I am already coming to the table with the ability to hit the ground running to get initiatives and programs going in the community for everyone. I don’t need 2 years to gear up which is what anyone will need, if they don’t have direct municipal experience.
WONO: The Hungerford property is an integral historical part of the community. As I understand it, it is owned by the Orange County School Board and the Town wants to buy some 99 acres. I also understand that you are in charge of managing that process. What’s the latest on this? And what are the future plans for developing the Hungerford property?
Alvin Moore: We are doing a simultaneous close with the school board and with a person who is interested in bringing jobs to the community. It looks like it’s going to move forward. It’s multi-family homes, a sporting dome, and single-family homes which the town of Eatonville needs. We need jobs, we need single-family homes, we need homeownership and we need a better tax base. This is going to mean about $400,000-$500,000 a year in additional taxes. We’ve done a lot of community outreach. We’ve had 3 studies to ask residents what they want to see in the community and those are the types of things we are making sure to bring. We brought a Family Dollar because the community said they want convenience and they want to be able to get things in their community. They said they want jobs, we’re fighting to bring jobs. What better way to bring jobs than to bring a project – what better way to bring home ownership than bring the accessibility to homes and bring first time home buyers and down payment assistance programs to the community. The project is moving forward.
WONO: The Town Council will vote on the purchase of the property? Is that how it would work?
Alvin Moore: We are already in contract with the lease purchase for the property. It’s a lease with the option to buy. We’re going to buy it and then the developer is going to buy it from us. That is how the whole thing works. The developer will buy it from the Town Council.
WONO: Why would the Town Council sell it though, if they are purchasing it from the school board? I would think they would want to keep that because it is such a historical set of land and property. Does it make sense for the Town to sell it?
Alvin Moore: Well, there are some challenges here. Every school around that age is already torn down. And that’s because of the problem with lead and asbestos; it has mold. There are many issues. You can’t keep an old school structure. If you look around Orange County, the old schools have been town down: Colonial – rebuilt, Evans – rebuilt, Jones – rebuilt. Also, we can’t afford it.
WONO: I have been hearing on the street that the developer is getting a steal with the purchase price. If the Town is purchasing from the school board, why wouldn’t the Town retain the property?
Alvin Moore: We don’t get any money regardless, that’s the way the contract was signed. So, whether the developer gets it for $5, $500, or 1 million, 10 million, we get none of the money. We get zero. Zilch. When it’s developed, we get tax revenue. What the contract said was if the builder buys it for a price above the appraisal, which was common 10 years ago, then we would get to split that difference beyond the appraised value. We could likely get between $400,000-$500,000 in the first year in additional tax revenue, including $300,000 in building permits and developer’s agreements. There is no other way we can get that. We can’t afford to buy it ourselves. If the building were given to us right now, we would have to pay about $30,000 a month between utilities, maintenance and insurance. Our budget is $3.6 million annually and we can’t afford the monthly expense of $30,000.
WONO: Is $3.5 million an accurate figure the developer is purchasing the 99-acre property for? Has a purchase price been agreed to?
Alvin Moore: The purchase price has not been agreed upon and there is no price on the table. We have had done the first and second appraisal and are awaiting the third one. And I should also tell you, the Council voted 4 to 1 on this deal. The school board is not going to give it away. They are going to sell it at a price and we are going to make sure we get the best deal for the community and town. I don’t think it’s a controversial issue.
We had a unanimous decision until the Mayor decided he wanted us to get the property back for free, but the last administration tried to do that for 6 years and we couldn’t get it. We don’t have the money to enter into a legal battle with the school board to try to get it for free. We can either spend $3-$4M getting a $3M property and then maybe we get it, maybe we don’t. Or we’ll take this deal, the only deal we have on the table. We’ve asked for back-up offers, we’re not getting the back-up offers. We advertise it and nobody is putting another offer on the table. Every year we don’t do something, we’re missing out on $400,000-$500,000 in tax revenue and many jobs in the community. Several different aspects of the agreement haven’t been hashed out, but it’s going to be some really good stuff for the community.
WONO: During your tenure as Eatonville Council Member, some of your critics have accused you of being soft – being more of a go-along to get-along personality. What’s your response to those who say you don’t have the toughness to be an Orange County Commissioner?
Alvin Moore: I would say look at how I walked door-to-door talking to people and how I fought against the charter. We went door-to-door, we put out the flyers, we talked to people in the community. I made the hard decisions and took the hard votes. When there is a tough decision that needs to be made, I look at them, I weigh them, I say this is what needs to happen. And I am not afraid to make the tough decisions but I want them to be fair, I want them to be equitable, I want them to be thought out, I want them to be reasonable and I’ve been doing it for 6 years.
In Eatonville it’s a hotbox. You’re fighting and you’re on one side or the other. Somebody is running against you. My last election I had 3 opponents, and they were 3 strong opponents. One of them was backed by a former councilman. I’m in the real estate business. If you don’t fight for the deal, you don’t get the deal. There is nothing wrong with diplomacy. I’d rather be a diplomatic person than a fighter who fights for no reason. If I have a cause, I’ll fight, obviously. I was 3rd in the state in wrestling. I was nationally ranked in college wrestling. I was on the football team. I was a bounty hunter. I got my finger cut off hunting. I’m 6’0 tall, 205 lbs. I bench about 400 lbs. I’m not soft. I’m a nice guy most of the time. But I’m not soft.
WONO: Final question. How is your campaign going and will we be seeing Orange County Commissioner Alvin Moore?
Alvin Moore: Again, we go back to the right person. We need the right person in the county commission. We need the person that’s fair, balanced, and honest, that has integrity, loyalty and a belief in God. We need someone who understands the community and its various characteristics and I do. I think that’s the difference.
Some understand the challenges of the community a little bit, but I worked in Apopka for 5 years as a Delinquency Case Management Counselor where all I was doing was visiting people within the community. It’s been a while, but I’ve still been there. I know the people, I’ve seen the people, I’ve sat down and eaten with them. I’m from the area. It has changed my life from what I was to who I am today. I had a destiny moment in Apopka and it changed my life.
I’ll let this be the last story. When I got out of college I went to work with my family in business and things were kind of slow and so I took a part-time job with DJJ. I was out visiting kids and I had one kid who would always come to my office. I was 22 years old and he was about 16 years old. We were talking about 2 Pac, Biggie, music in general, and we created somewhat of a bond. One day, I got a call that the kid had been arrested. I was told that, he and his friends were coming home from school, found a gun, unloaded it and were tossing it around among themselves. My friend/client Corey had gone to the restroom and the other boys had put the clip back in the gun and placed it on the counter. They had stopped playing with the gun. Well, Corey comes out of the restroom and sees the gun on the counter and says “It’s my turn!” So he points the gun at one of his friends and shoots him in the chest. He had to be resuscitated.
Fast forward. Corey came to the court and I brought the pastor, his football coach, teacher, and his parents and I wrote a glaring disposition about how he was on the wrong track and how we had gotten him on the right track. He was playing sports, got his grades up and was going to church. But after he shot this other kid, the judge said, “he already has a felony, I’m going to waive him over, and I’m recommending that we adjudicate him as an adult and put him in 33rd St. jail.” And I said, wait a second, if I can’t save just one kid that I’ve been working with for 2 years, I can’t do this job. I’m not just here to collect a paycheck. I want to know that what I’m doing means something. Well, the judge dropped his gavel, waived him over as an adult, put him over in 33rd St. jail and I quit. I said I’m done. I said to my supervisor, “If I can’t save one kid whose life I’ve made a difference in, I can’t do this job.” And that’s when I went back to grad school and got my MBA. If it hadn’t been for that, I would not be here right now. South Apopka means something to me because Corey changed my entire life. I wouldn’t own my own real estate company, I wouldn’t have houses, I probably wouldn’t have married the same woman. It changed everything for me.
WONO: So, I understand the answer to my question is “YES.”
Alvin Moore: We’re running a strong campaign and I will be the next Orange County Commissioner for District 2.
WONO: Thanks very much.
Alvin Moore: Thank you, too.
MORE ON ALVIN MOORE
Alvin Moore was raised in Winter Park, graduating from Winter Park High School. He attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business.
After college, Alvin returned to Orange County and worked with his father at Sunshine Appliances and Moore & Moore Bail Bonds. With a desire to work with kids, he took a position as a Case Management Counselor with the Department of Juvenile Justice in Apopka, where he helped hundreds of children.
In the late 1990s, Alvin earned his MBA in Finance at the University of Central Florida. He began a career in banking at Amsouth Bank as a branch manager. He later served as Assistant Vice President for SunTrust and Underwriter Vice President for Chase Manhattan Bank.
Alvin enjoyed assisting first-time homebuyers and working in the housing market, so he left banking and opened a Century 21 franchise – Morehouse Realty, with 60 agents. Alvin changed focus during the real estate downturn to property management. Today, Morehouse Realty, a successful real estate sales and property management company, employs a dozen people and manages 300 properties.
Alvin is married to Syreeta, 34 of Sanford. The couple has two children – 6 year old Dillon and 6 month old Alyssa. Syreeta, a native of Sanford, earned BA and MBA degrees from Nova Southeastern University in West Palm Beach. She worked as an auditor before joining Morehouse Realty.
For the last decade, the Moores have called Eatonville home. Alvin successfully won election to the Eatonville Town Council in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011. As a Councilman, Alvin successfully fought for lower taxes for senior citizens, introduced a youth scholarship program, led an effort to renovate homes and has actively worked with police to reduce crime.
Alvin has been active in public service on the Orange County Community Action Board, American Diabetes Association and the Eatonville Community Redevelopment Board. He is a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church and Orlando Regional Realtor Association.
Alvin Moore Campaign
2281 Lee Road, Ste. 200
Winter Park, Florida 32789
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