Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Lots of Candidates, Barely Any Votes to Replace Disgraced Orlando Commissioner

The special election to replace disgraced Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill has lots of candidates, but barely any votes so far – with seven candidates running, only about 700 absentee ballots have been returned as of Friday, and Special Election Day is May 21st.

Orlando’s District 5 typically has very low voter turnout and participation in normal elections, but the May 21st special election looks like it may come down to hundreds of votes.

candidates Orlando Commissioner District 5Lawanna Gelzer is a longtime community advocate who has been the most active in terms of following the Orlando City Council, speaking out on a variety of important issues, and engaging the community outside of elected office by securing grants to bring resources to Orlando. She is a known name in the community, having run for office before, and Mayor Buddy Dyer is no friend to Lawanna Gelzer, which means she could be an important check on the rubber stamp City Council before it is too late for the current District 5.

Gentrification and new development continues to be taking over downtown Orlando, especially west of I-4 currently, under the status quo establishment in Orlando government. That makes the stakes higher for District 5 voters regarding candidates for Orlando Commissioner.

Another candidate, Shan Rose, should understand the stakes of the current election, as she worked in community planning and development for the City of Orlando, but does not currently work for the city. Rose works Eatonville’s community development district currently, but has worked in the local Orlando community. In an odd political move, she recently seemed to embrace disgraced suspended Commissioner Regina Hill, possibly to try to win more votes from Hill supporters. Rose previously ran for the office and lost to Hill. But it is an odd thing to say knowing that Regina Hill is alleged to have taken advantage of an elderly and needy resident, which is why Republican Governor Ron DeSantis suspended her, and her former aide has alleged additional crimes and wrongdoing.

Travaris McCurdy is a former State Representative who served only one term before voters ousted him. He actually worked for Commissioner Regina Hill as a temporary contractor for the City of Orlando making $25/hour. According to city records, McCurdy was hired by Commissioner Hill on January 19, 2023 and his termination date was listed as March 1, 2023. Now, he is looking to serve as the Commissioner to replace Hill.

Ericka Dunlap, former Miss America and previous contestant on the Amazing Race, is also in the race. She previously ran for the office as well against Regina Hill and lost. She works in public relations, is active on social media and partners with various nonprofits.

Miles Mulrain organized various protests around Orlando, engaging the community on police shootings and various city issues. He is a community activist who was raised in the Parramore neighborhood and finished his studies at Valencia College. One past event that Mulrain helped facilitate is the “Orlando Blackout March” in 2016 that he said included over 2,500 participants from residents of Orlando to Orlando Police Department officers. He also worked with the City of Orlando on the My Brother’s Keeper program. In addition to his activism, he is now looking to serve in elected office.

Tiakeysha Ellison is another new candidate who has experience as a business coach and is an expert on financial issues. Cameron Hope owns a local tax business and seems focused on small business issues in Orlando.

As the various candidates for Orlando Commissioner are campaigning and attending interviews and forums, it does not seem to be driving District 5 residents to vote so far. Early Voting for the special election will take place Monday, May 13th through Sunday, May 19th. The final chance to vote will be Special Election Day on May 21st.

If needed, a run-off election will take place on June 18th.

Mayor Dyer called for a Special Election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 for District 5 Interim City Commissioner to fill the District 5 City Commission seat due to the suspension of Regina I. Hill. The person elected as Interim Commissioner will begin serving when elected until the criminal case involving Regina I. Hill is resolved or the current term ends.

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