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Orange County Democrats Hold Special Election to Elect New Local Chair

Orange County Democrats will be electing a new local chair in a special election at the Democratic Executive Committee meeting tonight, which they said was previously announced and noticed to members.

There have been few public details about the early departure of Orange County Democratic Chair Dawn Curtis, and Vice Chair Samuel Vilchez Santiago assumed the title “Interim Chair” when he sent the official party communication to members about the upcoming special election.

The local Democratic Party meeting will be Monday, September 18th, 2023 at 6:30pm at 1001 N Orange Ave. Orlando, 32801. It is set up as a “hybrid meeting” as members can participate via Zoom as well.

Nominations must be made by an OCDEC Precinct Committee Person or Automatic Member and will be accepted from the floor, according to the local Democrats. Then each candidate will have two minutes to speak and voting will continue until one candidate has more than 50% of the vote.

The Florida Democratic Party did not respond to questions about a reason why the Orange County DEC Chair resigned, as Curtis was only recently elected to the position. The FDP also did not provide any message to local Democrats before the vote for a new local Chair.

It is unclear if the Florida Democratic Party is really ready for upcoming elections in greater Orlando and Orange County, as well as around Central Florida if the local party infrastructure is in flux. Democrats are already engaging in Orlando municipal elections that are taking place, and clearly the presidential and 2024 election cycle is already in motion.

The Orange County Democrats do not currently have a Campaigns Chair listed. The Development Chair, responsible for fundraising, is also listed as Vacant. Despite being a major political issue and talking point, the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for local Democrats is listed as Vacant, and there appears to be openings for Outreach Chair, Events Chair and Young Democrats Chair, based on the Democrats’ site.

Other than Dawn Curtis and Samuel Vilchez Santiago, the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee lists these officers: Deborah Ryan (Secretary), Matthew Inman (Treasurer), Vivian Lyte-Johnson (State Committeewoman), Ricky Ly (State Committeeman), Pete Ogelo (Board Member At-Large), and Kalestine Butler, RPH (Board Member At-Large).

As of Sunday, September 17th around 4:40pm, the local Democratic Party reported only one submitted proxy vote had been submitted. Copies of all fully-executed proxies had to be submitted by 5pm on Sunday, September 17th, so they could be verified to be in compliance with the OCDEC and FDP Bylaws.

Upcoming Orange County Democratic Executive Committee meetings are scheduled for October 16, 2023 at 6:30pm and November 20, 2023 at 6:30pm.

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