Orlando – Florida Politics

Joe Lopez pledges integrity, loyalty, effective leadership in Orange County sheriff’s race

Orange County sheriff candidate Jose “Joe” Lopez formally kicked off his campaign amid supporters late Monday with a pledge to run his campaign and the sheriff’s office with integrity, loyalty and effective leadership.

Lopez, a retired chief from the Florida Highway Patrol, faces Orlando Police Chief John Mina in the contest. They both seek to succeed Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who’s running for mayor this year and would have to resign his post to qualify for the ballot, forcing a special election.

With a rally at the Cafe Caobana, a Cuban restaurant next door to the Florida Highway Patrol station in east Orange County, Lopez also pledged that his platform would include focusing on reduction of violent crime, expansion of community policing, and aggressive recruitment, hiring, and retention to fill and keep filled what he said has been a chronic shortage of hundreds of deputies in the department.

He said right now the department is about 250 short, despite Demings’ successful effort last fall to push the largest pay increase in memory through the Orange County Board of Commissioners. The chronic shortage, Lopez said, means the department cannot function as it should. T

hat must start with beefing up the office that does background checks, with more investigators, and actively recruiting with the Florida National Guard and military. He said even with the raises Demings pushed through, the pay still needs to be increased and benefits improved, because it had been compressed from too many years without raises, and still remains uncompetitive with many municipal police forces.

“We can’t do business as usual. We have to look at what we have today and reevaluate, including a review of how we hire and recruit deputies. We can’t wait five years to get 250 deputies. We’re going to have to do something about it,” Lopez said.

For that, Lopez stressed he’ll maintain his commitments to integrity, loyalty and effective leadership he said his campaign is based upon, and said he will use that in building a leadership team in the sheriff’s office.

“What is integrity? What do you do when the lights are turned off? Loyalty? Loyalty to my community loyalty to my constituents. Loyalty to my cause and what I promise what I’m going to do when I become sheriff. Effective leadership? For 32 years I’ve been on the path of leadership. It is for me a personal journey.

Scott Sturgill announces Mike Haridopolos’ endorsement in CD 7

Republican congressional candidate Scott Sturgill has received the endorsement of former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Sturgill’s campaign announced Monday.

“Scott is exactly the kind of leader we need in Congress right now,” Haridopolos said in a news release issued by Sturgill’s campaign. “He’s a successful businessman with deep ties to his community with the talent to do a lot of great things for his district, while doing his part to fix a broken system in Washington.”

Sturgill, chief executive officer of Durable Safety Products, faces state Rep. Mike MillerVennia V. Francois, and Patrick Weingart in seeking the August 28 Republican nomination in CD 7. They all hope to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November. The district covers Seminole County and central Orange County.

“Mike Haridopolos was a champion for Floridians during his time in the state legislature and I’m grateful for his support,” Sturgill said in the release. “The culture in Tallahassee and Washington is much different now with gridlock tying up the process to a point where lawmakers can’t even pass a budget on time. When I’m in Congress, I’ll put the interest of my constituents ahead of the special interest and do my part to fix a broken system.”

Police organization endorses Rob Panepinto in Orange County mayor’s race

The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association has put its endorsement behind Rob Panepinto in the contest for Orange County mayor, his campaign announced Monday.

“The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association proudly announces its endorsement of Rob Panepinto for Orange County Mayor,” CFPBA President Jerry Hagan said in a news release issued by Panepinto’s mayoral campaign. “The CFPBA recognizes that law enforcement is just part of the overall Orange County services and cannot achieve its missions without the other facets of Orange County government. The CFPBA is confident that Rob Panepinto has the complete set of skills, vision and character to lead all of Orange County. We are certain that Rob Panepinto will guide all of Orange County to a higher level.”

The union has members in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, and several suburban police departments, but is not the dominant labor organization, or the designated representative in contract negotiations for OCSO or Orlando Police. Local lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police have those distinctions.

Nonetheless, the CFPBA endorsement goes Panepinto’s way even though one of his chief rivals is Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who also is a former Orlando chief of police. Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke also is in the contest.

“I am incredibly honored to have the support of an organization that works so hard to represent our men and women in blue,” Panepinto said. “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our families and as mayor, I will work to ensure they have the resources, training and funding they need to do their jobs safely.”

In an endorsement letter sent to Panepinto Friday, Hagan said the association will ask its members, their friends and families and “all citizens in Orange County who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Rob Panepinto.”

Mike Miller announces Joe Gruters’ endorsement, citing Donald Trump connection

Republican congressional candidate Mike Miller announced an endorsement from fellow state Rep. Joe Gruters today — as a link to the Oval Office.

Gruters is President Donald Trump‘s Florida campaign chairman, a point stressed in a news release issued by Miller’s campaign Monday morning in his quest to be elected in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Miller, a two-term state representative in House District 47, faces a potential tough Republican primary contest with businessman Scott SturgillVennia V. Francois, and Patrick Weingart. They all hope to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November. The district covers Seminole County and central Orange County.

“I have worked alongside Mike in Tallahassee and know he is one of the most hardworking conservatives we have. I am supporting his campaign because I know he will work with President Trump to protect our borders, ensure tax reforms, and bolster our military,” Gruters said in the news release. “Mike has a proven track record of winning in razor thin districts, so I believe he is the best choice to take on Congresswoman Murphy. I am looking forward to becoming involved in the campaign, not just helping him raise money, but engaging our grassroots supporters to help us flip this seat.”

Gruters, of Sarasota, represents Florida House District 73.

“Joe is a good friend and a fellow conservative who knows how important it is that we take this seat back from the Pelosi Democrats,” Miller stated in the release. “I am honored to have his endorsement and thankful for his efforts on the campaign trail.”

Darren Soto endorsed by 10 other members of Fla. congressional district

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has received endorsements from all ten of the other Democratic members of Congress from Florida, his re-election campaign announced Friday.

The announced endorsements would come as no surprise and seemingly fill no particularly-urgent campaign purpose, since Soto’s only opponent thus far in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is a Republican, St. Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky. However, the announcement may send a discouraging signal toward any potential Democratic primary challengers, notably former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who’s been mulling a comeback run, possibly against Soto for his old CD 9 seat.

Six of those who endorsed Soto in Friday’s announcement, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson, all served with Grayson in the 114th Congress, and before. U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings, and Charlie Crist all were first elected with Soto in 2016 to the 115th Congress.

Said Frankel, from West Palm Beach, “Darren Soto is one of the finest new leaders of his generation. He is all that women hope for in a male ally. He supports equal rights for women across the board. He fights for a woman’s right to choose 100 percent of the time. He demands health care for women and families. And he practices what he preaches – he hires women equally, promotes women equally, and pays women equally. And he has the stats to prove it.”

“Darren is not afraid to stand for what’s right. Before Parkland, his community was torn apart by gun violence. And he stood up, he took on the NRA. He will not forget the victims of gun violence when the media moves on. Soto will work day and night until our children our protected from guns,” Frankel added. “Darren succeeds the old fashioned way — through hard work. Darren is a new-generation leader who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do the work you need to do to succeed. He’s pragmatic, he’s in public service to get stuff done for Florida. He served in the trenches in Tallahassee like I did. He’s seen every dirty trick the Republicans pull, and he has fought them all — without the name-calling and childishness that often consumes Washington.”

Rene Plasencia draws endorsements from Titusville, Brevard, Cape Canaveral leaders

Republican state Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia‘s re-election effort has drawn endorsements from a half-dozen Brevard County and municipal leaders including Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Plasencia’s campaign announced Friday.

His Florida House District 50 covers part of east Orange County and much of north Brevard County, including the city of Titusville.

A former former teacher from Orlando seeking his third term in the House of Representatives, Plasencia received endorsements from Ivey; Titusville Mayor Walt Johnson; Port Canaveral Commission Chair Wayne Justice and Vice Chair Micah Lloyd; and Titusville City Council Members Jo Lynn Nelson and Dan Deisel, his campaign announced.

“Since my first term as a House Representative, I established a clear line of communication with the local elected officials of the counties within District 50 in order to hear first-hand their most pressing needs, as well as their competitive edges,” Plasencia said in a news release issued Friday  by his campaign. “These actions allowed us to ensure that District 50 communities were well represented in our state government. It is an honor to represent the people of north Brevard and east Orange County.”

Plasencia served one term in House District 49 in Orange County and now one in HD 50. He is being challenged in the HD 50 election this year by Democrat Pamela Joy Dirschka of Titusville.

“I am honored to receive not just their endorsement, but their ongoing contribution of innovative ideas to help continue developing policy that benefits Florida’s District 50,” Plasencia added. “I know that only by working together can we guarantee that the voices of our community are effectively represented in our state Capitol.”

Jerry Demings endorses John Mina for Orange County Sheriff

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings has endorsed Orlando Police Chief John Mina in the election to be his successor.

Citing Mina’s accomplishments as chief of the Orlando Police Department and the trust he has built in the community, Demings, who is in his third term as sheriff, said he considers Mina is the best choice to succeed him.  Demings made the statements Thursday during a political forum hosted by the International Drive Chamber of Commerce, at which both he and Mina were featured speakers.

Mina faces retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Jose “Joe” Lopez. The election is expected to be called for November because Demings is running for Orange County mayor and will have to resign, affective at the end of the year, in order to qualify for the ballot.

Mina and Demings have known each other for 27 years, and worked together at the Orlando Police Department, where Demings served as Chief from 1998 through 2002. Since Mina became Orlando police chief four years ago, the two have worked together on a number of joint initiatives.

“I’m honored and grateful to receive Sheriff Demings’ endorsement,” Mina stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “We have built an extraordinary partnership as Chief and Sheriff, working together to keep the residents of Orange County safe. I look forward to continued collaboration in the future.”

Marco Rubio to headline Mike Miller fundraiser

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will appear at an April 6 campaign fundraiser for state Rep. Mike Miller‘s run for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Miller once worked on Rubio’s campaign, and Rubio endorsed Miller last summer in the Republican primary.

“It is an honor to have Marco’s support,” Miller said. “I admire his conservative principles and his commitment to serving all Floridians – keeping us safe, providing tax reform, and supporting our veterans.

Miller faces three other Republicans in the Aug. 28 primary to run for Congress in CD 7: Scott SturgillPatrick Weingart, and Vennia Francois. They all seek to take on Democratic U.S Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

Last summer when Rubio endorsed Miller, he said, “Jeanette and I have known Mike and Nora for many years, and like us, they are raising their children and serving in public office, all while balancing the same challenges Florida families do every day. Mike is a tireless advocate for Central Florida and will bring his conservative values to Washington and give me a great partner to work with in the Congress.”

Scott Sturgill announces two mayors’ endorsements in CD 7 race

Republican congressional candidate Scott Sturgill has received the endorsements of the mayors of two Seminole County cities in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Altamonte Springs Mayor Pat Bates and Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere both offered their support for Sturgill, according to a news release issued by his campaign.

Sturgill is in an Aug. 28 Republican primary battle with state Rep. Mike Miller, Patrick Weingart, and Vennia Francois. They all seek to take on Democratic U.S Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

“Scott grew up in Altamonte Springs.” Bates said in the release. “He is a family man and a small business owner. Scott is interested in seeing Seminole County prosper. It is important to have Seminole County represented in Congress.”

“I am honored to have the support of Mayor Bates and Mayor Persampiere, two leaders whose efforts have resulted in first class cities with great futures,” Sturgill said. “When I get to Congress, I’ll work with local leaders to make sure the concerns of their constituents are being heard, and not lost in the political noise that currently dominates the conversation in Washington and Tallahassee.”

Bryan Nelson knocks Joe Kilsheimer from Apopka mayor’s office

Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson was elected mayor of Apopka Tuesday, ended the tenure of Mayor Joe Kilsheimer after one four-year term.

Nelson, a one-term county commissioner who previously served in the Florida House of Representatives, defeated Kilsheimer 61 to 38 percent, with a voter turnout of about 20.5 percent, with just over 6,400 votes cast in Orange County’s second-largest city. In unofficial results posted Tuesday night by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Nelson drew 2,786 votes, and Kilsheimer 1,733.

Nelson is an insurance agent with deep family roots in Apopka, who had eschewed the chance to run for a second term, to run instead for the Apopka mayor’s office, a gambit that paid off.

He will be sworn in on April 24.

The election campaign was in part a contest between the new establishment brought into office by Kilsheimer and the city’s previous establishment rallying around Nelson, which had centered around the legendary, late John Land, who had served as mayor for 61 of the previous 64 years before Kilsheimer defeated him in in 2014.

In other municipal elections in Orange County, two multi-candidate Apopka City Council races headed for run-off elections on April 10; Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen and George Oliver III were elected in Ocoee City Commission races; and Jim Partin was elected to the Belle Isle City Council.

Suzanne Kidd and Alexander Smith survived the first-round election in Apopka’s District 1, with Kidd drawing about 39 percent, and Smith 29 percent. Eliminated Tuesday were Gene Knight and Theresa Mott.

In the Apopka District 2 contest, incumbent City Commissioner Diane Velazquez, seeking re-election, and Alice Nolan survived to met again, with Velazquez getting 40 percent and Nolan, 39. Ousted in that race were Alicia Koutsoulieris and Leroy Bell.

In Ocoee, Wilsen easily won re-election to her District 2 seat on the City Commission, defeating Robert Rivera 75 percent to 25 percent.

However, in Ocoee’s other contest, an incumbent was defeated. Oliver beat Commissioner Joel Keller by 53 percent to 47 percent, or 369 to 328 in the unofficial vote total.

Turnout in Ocoee was only 8 percent.

In Belle Isle, Partin beat Andrew Thompson 59-41 in unofficial results There also were 13 charter amendment proposals in Belle Isle, and they all were approved. Turnout in Belle Isle was about 16 percent.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons