Gov. DeSantis appoints Glen Gilzean as Orange Co. Supervisor of Elections

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The puts a Republican in charge of elections in one of Florida's Democratic strongholds.

It looks like Glen Gilzean is shifting from governing Disney World to managing Orange County’s elections office.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Gilzean, now Administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), to replace retired Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles.

He was tapped by a board made up entirely of DeSantis appointees to lead the replacement for the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District. DeSantis weeks ago held a press conference touting the new tourism district as a model of local government, though the transition has brought about an employee exodus.

But Gilzean has stood by the changes made by the governing district, many of which address problems in an audit of prior practices. He recently said the district has been on a hiring spree to fill vacancies.

Gilzean takes over the Supervisor’s Office days out from the March 19 Presidential Primary. Early voting in Orange County is already underway.

The appointment notably shifts the office from oversight by a Democrat to a Republican, in one of the handful of counties that Democrats carried in the 2022 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections, where Republicans dominated statewide.

Gilzean is not one of eight candidates already filed to succeed Cowles. That includes Democrats Karen Castor Dentel, Lawanna Renee Gelzer, Dan Helm, Wes Hodge, Ricardo Negron-Almodovar and Michael Scott, Republican Joseph Davis, and no-party candidate Cynthia Harris.

Gilzean previously chaired the Florida Ethics Commission, but resigned amid concerns that also leading the CFTOD represented a conflict of interest. He also served as President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, as Vice President of Step Up for Students and on the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Board of Trustees. He also held office as a Pinellas County School Board member in 2012.

He previously worked in the Florida Department of Education as a regional field director from 2006 until 2009.

Cowles won the Supervisor of Elections post in 1996. He led the office through a number of high-profile statewide election events including the 2000 presidential recount, as well as the 2018 gubernatorial recount, where DeSantis won by about 0.4% of the total vote.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • MH/Duuuval

    March 4, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    So, Gilzean gave up his $400k annual salary at the former Disney?

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 4, 2024 at 2:56 pm

    Liberal leaning precinct closures and combinations coming in 3… 2… 1….

    The voters from closed precincts have to be told of their new location (outside of extenuating circumstances… Extenuating circumstances coming in 3… 2… 1….),, but voters at the left leaning precincts that are remaining open don’t have to be told 4 other precincts were closed and will also be voting at the same new location.

    The voters who already voted at the new location don’t have to be told 20,000 additional voters will be voting at their precinct next time, yielding 4+ hour waits when their wait was never more than 10 minutes. That leaves the open, left leaning precincts being the most affluent ones. Because those voters would have the resources to fight this disenfranchisement strategy., if only they knew ahead of time what voting day would look like at their same old precinct where nothing was disclosed as having changed.

    Every liberal leaning voter in the county needs to vote in advance or by mail because you ARE going to have a shockingly long wait this November like you’ve never seen before in all of history.

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 4, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    I saw what a manipulative put$ Gilzean was when he was on our school board. We sure didn’t elect him- appointed by Rick Scott- and then he didn’t even get his seat warm, and Scott moved him up to a much cushier university position where he wouldn’t have to actually do anything. I imagine this job won’t take much effort either..

  • OrlandoMan

    March 5, 2024 at 4:40 am

    The elected Orange Co. Supervisor of Elections,. Bill Cowles, unexpectedly resigned effective just over a month ago.

    The new OCSOE will most certainly be a Democrat.

    Democrats who are worried about this temporary, professional seatwarmer bureaucrat may wish to remove their tinfoil hats for a moment.

  • Liberal Oranges

    March 5, 2024 at 7:34 am

    Everybody in Urnge County (Orlando area) that votes in a left leaning precinct, meaning most every voter in the area, needs to vote early or vote by mail.

    Your precinct will be an absolute cluster flock this November. 4+ hour lines, minimum. I guarantee it.

    Combined precincts, barely trained, inexperienced staff, not enough voting stations, shortages of parking, lines out the door rather than within in the climate control. You name it, if it discourages a single voter from voting, they are going to do it

    Democrats smell blood in Florida’s water. Republicans smell fear. All left leaning voters, vote early or vote by mail.

    Do NOT wait till voting day. Do NOT vote at your precinct. Because that would mean you do NOT collect $200. You would just go straight into voting hell.

    If it’s November 5th, voting day, but you have not voted, perhaps because you saw a 6 hour line in the morning, go and vote and the a GOP leaning precinct (no lines! how about that). You won’t be on their voter roll, but because it’s so late in the day, you will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot (but check local laws first before relying on this information; your results may vary; your vote is up to YOU) which, after you and your ballot are verified up at the elections office, does count, and you didn’t have to wait in the lines Gilzean is giving up a cushy $400k do-nothing position to manufacture while earning an elections position’s compensation of just barely above minimum wage.

  • jean solomon

    March 6, 2024 at 12:01 pm

    well well, Gilzean seems to the Republicans token republican…watch carefully,, he is placed in this job , for a gves up a 400k job to take a 200 k job.he is slicker than a greased pole.

  • Curtis

    March 10, 2024 at 9:25 pm

    I’m just here for all the racist, white, liberal comments.

    Sincerely, a black, former Democrat.

    • jean solomon

      March 14, 2024 at 11:15 am

      that you identify yourself as a black indicates that you yourself are racist. how do you know anyone who posts here is black white green or purple? i, or no-one would have had any idea that you are a black person@@

Comments are closed.


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