Local Candidates Engage in Election Conversation

This article originally published in West Orlando News Online.

On Tuesday evening a group of local candidates got together to debate a few issues. This wasn’t called a debate, but rather an election conversation. This conversation was hosted by The Experience Christian Center located at 1224 26th St. Orlando, Fl. There were estimates of about 100 to 125 people present. A good turnout for a Tuesday evening.

Jasmine Burney hosted the evening and got the evening started. Bishop Cabaris started with a short prayer. Jasmine Burney made several comments about the August election then introduced Jeanette Cruz. Ms. Cruz is from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office and she made a few specific comments about the ballot and voting procedure.

Next there was Sheena Rolle who wanted all in attendance to sign a petition that will ensure everyone who worked would have sick days available if needed. She explained that employers with 15 or less employees did not have to grant sick days to employees. This petition, if successful would help to pass legislation that would make it possible for everyone to take time off work if needed, without fear of losing employment.

 Abdul Hakim was next to speak. He is with the Tabor Act Amendment. He wants everyone to vote NO on Amendment 3.

 Monica May, a very popular radio personality was matched with Allie Braswell, the CEO of Central Florida Urban League as moderators for the evening. As the debate conversation progressed, there was light banter between the two of them and the time keeper. This kept the mood upbeat and interesting in a light hearted kind on way.

The first debate of the evening was between Mike Scott and Mike Smith who are both running for the District 5 School Board Representative seat. Kathleen Gordon, the incumbent running for reelection in that position was attending a school board meeting and could not be present at the debate.

 The overall questions for the school board candidates were not difficult at all. They were designed as essay type questions that allowed the debaters some latitude in their answers while making the listeners think.

Mr. Scott and Mr. Smith gave great performances. Neither stumbled and both received a round of applause for answers to different questions. Mr. Scott was very smooth and polished in speech and answers. Mr. Smith was a little more detailed in his answers.

I can’t pick a winner for the school board debate, I could only pick a loser. That loser would be Ms. Gordon. Both Scott and Smith want the school board to reverse the closing of Richmond Heights Elementary School. This is something Ms. Gordon opposes.

 Scott wants more open access to the school board representative. He indicated this was lacking under Kat Gordon’s leadership. Smith wants to rethink the zoning process for schools in the area. Kat Gordon approved the zoning which caused low enrollment for the Richmond Heights Elementary School.

The next debate was to have been between the candidate for Florida House of Representatives, District 47. This is a new district. Only Dr. Bob Brooks was present for this debate. In my opinion, Dr. Brooks lost this debate. His comments and answers were very generic. He didn’t say anything specific that would move me to consider him. I am glad that it is still early in the process and I have time to learn more about him and his opponent, Linda Stewart.

 This was a great learning experience. I learned a lot from the people who were present, and something from the people who believed that this forum was not important enough for them to attend. The Experience Christian Center Pastor, Derrick McRae gave closing remarks. The next event will be held July 10 at the same location.