Linda Stewart wants a local leader on Disney World governing board

Stewart sent a letter to the Governor, urging local representation on the Disney board.

Sen. Linda Stewart is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint an Orange County elected official to lead Disney World’s governing board after the blockbuster news that the top Administrator is taking a job overseeing Orange County elections.

DeSantis appointed the current Disney World Administrator, Glen Gilzean, to replace retired Orange County Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles. Cowles retired early because he wanted to spend more time with his family, according to media reports.

That puts Gilzean, a Republican, in charge of running the elections in one of Florida’s bluest counties.

Florida Politics reached out to the district to ask if Gilzean planned to step down from his Disney government job that pays $400,000 a year. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the pay for Orange County Elections Supervisor is currently $205,000. The district did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about Gilzean’s future.

“We are going to have to work incredibly hard in Orange County to ensure the integrity of our elections,” said Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents Orlando, on social media.

DeSantis called Gilzean a “dedicated public servant.”

When the state took over Disney World’s government, DeSantis appointed five Republican allies onto the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), which then hired Gilzean in 2023.

With Gilzean’s new job, Stewart seized on the opportunity for an official elected by the local people to get the district’s five-member board.

“Unlike other special districts created in the state, the CFTOD board lacks any elected representation of the residents or taxpayers,” Stewart wrote in her letter sent Monday to DeSantis’ Office.

“Only one of the five appointed Board Members is from Orange County and the others reside in Tampa, Sarasota and Clearwater. The morale of district employees has been crushed leading over 40 employees in key leadership positions and with institutional knowledge to resign or retire after the current administration took over.”

Stewart, who is term-limited in Tallahassee, is a Democrat from Orlando.

“It is my belief that by appointing an elected official from Orange County to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the board can be more effective in understanding and meeting the local needs of those impacted by its decisions in central Florida,” her letter concluded.

DeSantis’ Office did not immediately respond for comment Tuesday.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 5, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    Rhonda should appoint themself to govern their anti-Disney squad. And then move to Idaho and stay there.

  • Zero Responsibility; Welcome To Church

    March 5, 2024 at 1:44 pm

    There’s nothing a Christian can’t blame on other.

    Crime? Disney.

    Can’t get a loan? Jews!

    Can’t get ahead at work? IMMIGRANTS!!

    Christians are useless and best used as a punchline.

Comments are closed.


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