Time to Vote: Ocoee and Maitland City Elections – March 14

If you reside in the city limits of Ocoee or Maitland and you are a registered voter, remember, you have an election on Tuesday, March 14.

Early voting actually starts Monday, March 6 and runs through Friday, March 10 – for both cities. According to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website, early voting for both cities will be held at the elections office: 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806. Early voting hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

If you wait to vote on Election Day, you will vote at your polling place. Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

For what or whom are you voting? Hopefully, you had a chance to read literature from your City Clerk about what’s on your ballot. If not, here’s an overview of what’s on the ballots:

In Maitland:

Council Seat 4 – Incumbent Lindsay Hall Harrison faces former Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald.

Charter Amendments – There are five, including one to amend the charter so that the vice-mayor becomes mayor if the mayor’s seat is left vacant.

In Ocoee:

Mayor – Incumbent Rusty Johnson has two competitors: Chris Adkins, property management business owner and current Ocoee District 4 Commissioner George Oliver III.

City Commission Seats 1 and 3 – Seat 1: Hope Bellamy, non-profit and not-for-profit business owner is running against Scott Kennedy, a homeowner association president and member of the Ocoee Human Relations Diversity Board. Seat 3: Incumbent Richard Firstner faces off against Shante Munns, small business owner.

To find out if you live in your city limits click here: https://www.ocfelections.gov/check-my-info or call the elections office: (407) 836-2070. You can also contact your city clerk for more details: Maitland – (407) 539-6219 and Ocoee – (407) 905-3105.

-Trish Marshall

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Joy: OCN Word for the New Year

I can say this because I have not talked with many of you since last year: Happy New Year! Yes, Happy 2023! We are blessed to see a new year! Amen, somebody! Join me in telling the Lord, “Thank you!” God has been Merciful, Faithful and Gracious toward each one of us. I can say that with confidence because we – you and I – are still here! We have the ability to read this, to read it on some electronic device and most likely, to read it with a roof over our head. Glory to God!

It’s the season for New Year’s resolutions but a lot people pick a word or phrase to focus on throughout the year and set goals, rather than make resolutions. Do you have a word for the year and if so, what is it? I’ve heard intentional, love and consistency, for example.

My word for 2023 is Joy! You may hear it in my voice! I’ve got the joy of the Lord, down in my heart and I want the world to know this same joy – in fact, to know the Great Joy that the angels proclaimed to the shepherds in Luke 2: 9-11!

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (verses 10 and 11)

Friends, knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior is having JOY. Yes, it’s having GREAT JOY! Since God promised it, let’s embrace it and walk in it daily! I overhead a coworker say once, “I won’t let the devil take my joy.” I didn’t know exactly what was going on but I said to him, “Now that’s the right attitude to have” and I thanked him.

We may not be happy all the time but joy is within us. To borrow a few words from Bro. Kirk Franklin: Happiness is when you have something hap-pen-ing. Some time ago, he wrote a song about having the joy of the Lord: “Joy, Joy. God’s great joy. Joy, Joy. Down in my soul. Sweet, beautiful, soul saving joy. Ohh joy, joy in my soul…” Amen!

If you entered this new year with sadness over situations from last year, yet you know God personally, pray for renewal of joy. That’s what Bro. David in the Bible did. He prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

I am in agreement with your prayer and speak JOY into your spirit. I pray that you are strengthened in your inner man, day by day. (Please share your testimony, when you are restored! I claim it, in Jesus name!)

Again, know that joy is within you when you truly know God. Scripture says God’s Spirit lives in us and joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit! (Galatians 5:22) People will see the fruit in your life! It’s all because of Jesus!

I declare that we are joyFUL people of God and we will not give our joy away to our adversary, the devil.

For “this joy that I have, the world didn’t give it to me…The world didn’t give it; the world can’t take it away.” -Pastor Shirley Caesar

Amen somebody!

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Celebrating Pine Hills: Establishment Day Parade This Saturday, December 10

December 8, 2022 (Pine Hills, FL) – The community will come together 2 p.m. this Saturday for the annual Establishment Day Parade and organizers are looking for volunteers. The parade, in its second year, will culminate with a celebration at Barnett Park’s Multi-Purpose Field with vendors, food trucks, fun, etc. Special guests for the parade include Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and Parade Grand Marshal JoJo O’Neal of Star 94.5 FM radio.

The event, put on by the Pine Hills Community Council, is a community-wide effort with representation from organizations in public and private sectors.

Organizers are looking for volunteers for the parade to help as parade marshals, set up and staging helpers, parking attendants and walkers throughout the parade. Reach out to the community council if you want or your volunteer group would like to volunteer: http://www.pinehills.info

Here’s the parade route in case you want to attend or participate: Deauville Drive, north on Pine Hills Road, right on Delores Drive and ends at Barnett Park (off west Colonial Drive).

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Motivation to Vote on Tuesday, November 8

What motivates you to vote? Seriously. It’s no secret that Mid-Term Elections historically have low voter turnout. In the upcoming election, on Tuesday, November 8, there are significant issues on the ballot that can motivate you to get out and vote.

Nationally, here are several: women’s reproductive rights, inflation and democracy. Yes, democracy because we still have people, even public officials, who deny the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. All kinds of changes have been made in many states in the name of election reform even when changes were not needed (like here in Florida). When we select certain people to fill seats in the United States Senate and House of Representatives, we align with most of what they stand for. It’s not hard to research where frontrunners in the Senate race stand. You can “Goggle” them: Senator Marco Rubio (R) and Congresswoman Val Demings (D).

In Florida, there’s even more on the ballot that could motivate people to go out and vote: affordable housing/homeowners insurance, gun reform and minimum wage increase. I mean, for the most part, people are working or have opportunities to work but wages haven’t kept up with inflation, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Again, who we select as leaders, especially as governor which is on the ballot, will determine if we can get more money in our pay check, for example. (Note: Current Gov. Ron DeSantis in the past opposed a constitutional amendment to raise the state minimum to $15 a hour by 2026. Congressman Charlie Crist co-sponsored a House bill that would raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2025. In 2020, Florida voters approved that Florida amendment that DeSantis opposed. We now have annual minimum wage increases until it reaches $15 by 2026. It got started in September 2021 at $10 an hour.)

In Orange County, residents are looking at an increase in local taxes for transportation and transit improvements. The proposed surtax will be in place for 20 years. That’s on the ballot. Here’s something else on the ballot that can motivate folk to get out and vote especially if they are renting an apartment: A “Rent Stabilization Ordinance to Limit Rent Increases for Certain Residential Rental Units.” I know somebody is praying for the ordinance to pass because there is no rhyme nor reason for the exorbitant rent increases throughout Central Florida. I mean they are exorbitant! Many people are living with two or three people to pay rent and survive.

There is so much that could be said historically on why all of us should STAY READY, MOTIVATED to vote. We don’t have to look far to see the injustices done to Black Americans who were just trying to vote. Women had to fight for the right to vote. Thank God, we’ve come a long way as a country and God knows we’ve got a long way to go. I had to take it there because I think we forget that treating people equally and taking care of the “least of these” is our responsibility as children of God.

Whatever motivates you to participate in the process – voting and holding public officials accountable – I encourage you: just do it. Your vote is your voice!

– Trish Marshall, Founder & Editor, Orlando Community News

Orlando Community News, 2022

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Credit Union Grand Opening and Community Festival This Week in Eatonville

October 19, 2022 (Eatonville, FL) – Here’s some great news coming out of Eatonville! Founding members and town officials on tomorrow, Thursday, October 20, will open the doors to Unity of Eatonville Federal Credit Union and follow up Saturday with a community festival in credit union’s parking lot. Location: 323 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite G, Eatonville, FL 32751. Time for the ribbon cutting and official grand opening on Thursday: 10 a.m. Time for the community festival on Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Unity of Eatonville Federal Credit Union set to open Thursday, October 20.

Located in the historic town nestled north of Orlando next door to Maitland, Unity of Eatonville is making more history in that it is the first federally insured financial institution ever in Eatonville. How apropos because Eatonville was incorporated in 1887, by a group of freed slaves, becoming the first town to be organized, governed and incorporated by African Americans in the country.

A vision of Rev. Willie C Barnes, pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Eatonville (in walking distance of the credit union building), the credit union began to take form when he established a taskforce to explore the feasibility of establishing one.

This wasn’t an overnight process – from vision to manifestation. It took years to get organized, obtain the charter from the National Credit Union Administration and began setting up operations.

To get more information about the events this week, celebrating the opening of Unity of Eatonville Federal Credit Union, visit the credit union’s website: unityofeatonvillefcu.com or call (407) 637-5657.

Sources: Unity of Eatonville Federal Credit and Town of Eatonville

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Registration Deadline Tuesday for November General Election

October 10, 2022 (Orlando) – If you want to vote in the November general election and you have not registered to vote, take note: tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 11, is the registration deadline. Maybe you need to remind the young adults who are a part of your household: Tuesday, Oct. 11, is the voter registration deadline. No, the state of Florida does not have same day registration yet for elections.

So if you qualify to vote, take the first step in participating in the political process and voicing your preference for your representatives: register to vote.

There are details on how to register on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website: http://www.ocfelections.gov. It’s convenient and accessible: you can register online at http://www.RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov or in person at various locations including public libraries, driver’s license offices, Center for Independent Living; WIC and DCF offices or any elections office.

If you have any questions or concerns about completing your registration or updating your information, visit the elections office at 119 W. Kaley St., Orlando, FL 32806 or call the office: (407) 836-2070.

The General Election is Nov. 8 and in Florida, also in Orange County, so much is at stake. Florida voters will decide whether to keep Ron DeSantis as Governor or elect former United States Representative and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, for instance. Orange County voters will decide on several key commission seats and key questions such as whether we should have a transportation surtax and whether we should limit rent increases for certain residential units in multi-family properties.

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Relentless Woman Conference 2022: Two Powerful Speakers, a Pure Display of Love and Hope of a New Day

Sept. 21, 2022 (Orlando) – There’s something about women of faith coming together in unity, expecting an outpouring of the Spirit of God and changes in their lives and in the lives of people around them.

It’s special. It’s memorable. It happened last Saturday at The Relentless Woman Conference held in the beautifully decorated gymnasium at the Wayne Densch YMCA Family Center. The conference, hosted by Minister Casman Mosby, featured guest speakers Pastor Jameliah Gooden and Prophetess Sophia Ruffin.

Themed W.A.R. (Women Anointed and Ready), the conference was the second of it’s kind hosted by Mosby in Orlando. It followed nine months of virtual and private praying, teaching, preaching and fasting by Mosby and a local fellowship of relentless women of God.

Hundreds of people gathered for the Sept. 17 conference and experienced the Power of God through prayer, worship and praise music, dance and flag, song and anthems and his preached Word. No doubt, God was glorified and souls were lifted, delivered and healed.

“It was one for the books,” Mosby said a few days after the conference, which included two sessions, a variety of vendors and special recognition for the women of God who poured so much out throughout the day including Mosby. “Listen you could not walk into an atmosphere like this, and leave the same. You had to be in the room.”

There’s not enough room here to tell it all but here are some highlights:

After prayer and praise and worship, Pastor Gooden, of Unity Church Charlotte, bought the Word for the Morning Glory session which started with prayer at 10 a.m. Gooden spoke from the topic, Don’t take a woman’s word lightly, especially if she’s a woman who’s connected to God.” The message was based on II Kings 22: 14-20 and the influence of Prophetess Huldah in the time of King Josiah. Before she preached, Gooden started out singing a slow tune comprised of one word, “Hallelujah!” – establishing the atmosphere for the power of God to settle throughout the gym-turned-sanctuary. She engaged praise team members from earlier and together, they repeated the sound of a glorious chant, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…!” Shortly after that she laid hands on people and prophesied as the Spirit led.

Prophetess Ruffin, of Chicago, came that evening for the second session, “The Glory After Hours.” She praised God and preached on the topic, God will answer ALL of your prayers and ALL your plans will be successful. Using Psalm 20: 1-5, she walked with the audience thorough the Word and stressed you have to believe it and grasp it. Sharing: God will fulfill all your prayers. Be prepared. A New Day is coming. Be unmovable in your faith through adversity (like David in many situations). If you have Jesus Christ, you carry the breakthrough! (You already have the answer. The light. The Word.) Hang on in there with the Lord! Amen.

Minister Casman Mosby (Photo Credit:LMG Photography / Wally Etienne)
Pastor Jameliah Gooden (far right) after preaching at The
Relentless Woman Conference
Prophetess Sophia Ruffin preaching at
The Relentless Woman Conference 2022

Between Morning Glory session and The Glory After Hours session, Minister Casman Mosby (center) praying for a conference participant with support of other sisters and friends.
Relentless sisters Michaelle Desruisseaux (left) with Ales-Cia Winsley
Relentless sisters Kim Stringer (left) and Trish Marshall
Relentless sister Brenda Gandy: Ready for the conference

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Primary Election Highlights: Close Calls and Solid Winners

Sept. 12, 2022 (Orlando) – ONE vote. Locally, Primary Election Day ended with an Orange County Commission seat race too close to call for a runoff vote. The District 6 race was eventually settled (somewhat) days later with community activist Lawanna Gelzer getting the most votes and facing off against Mentoring Program Director Michael Scott in the November General Election. Community activist Cynthia Harris was ONE vote shy of Scott for second place, according to the official election results posted on the county’s Supervisor of Elections Office website. However, the election’s office official RECOUNT results shows Harris was six votes short of Scott. The result of the second place position was the closest among all of the races in the county.

The District 6 seat, open because Commissioner Victoria Siplin this year reached the term limit, represents Pine Hills, Orlo Vista, Ivey Lane, Eagle’s Nest, Washington Shores and Richmond Heights, to name a few communities and businesses along the International Drive corridor.

At least two state races had opposite election results (compared to the District 6 race): United States Representative Val Demings handedly won the Democratic nomination for Senate, winning more than 91 percent of the votes and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist won his bid for the Florida Governor Democratic nomination, with more than 58 percent of the votes against Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried. When Fried conceded on election night to Crist, she rallied behind him and called on her supporters to support Crist in the November General Election, according to reports.

In most of the state races on the Republican side, candidates easily won their races, according to the county’s official election results. Republicans had no primary competition in four of the five open state-level positions – governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general and chief financial officer – all held by incumbents, according to reports.

To see more election results from the county, go to the elections office website: http://www.ocfelections.gov

Editor’s Note: The Primary Election here on August 23 proved once again, the need for strategic efforts to get out the vote among local residents to select their representatives for key public offices and the need for servant leaders who want to make significant change in the communities that they represent.

Those types of leaders work and show that they care about the lives in their communities. You often see them around town or hear from them – well after elections.

Hats off to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who won his re-election bid with more than 60 percent of the votes. Like him or not, you saw Demings and heard from him often – from the time we first learned of the outbreak of COVID-19.

You really don’t have to have a title/public office to be a servant leader (You probably can get more work done, though.)

That reminds me of folk like Sandra Fatmi-Hall, who along with her husband Dennis, spearheaded a community food drive in the Pine Hills community several years ago and never stopped. It’s groceries for families not just one person! While the Halls and their partners financially make the food drive happen, they will tell you that it’s an united effort including a group of residents, students and business owners who volunteer their time and resources. Sandra should be celebrated for all that she does and for a great campaign run for the District 2 county commission seat. (She came in second place.)

In Orange County, while 189,202 residents voted, the total voter turnout was still very low at 22 percent, according to the official election results posted on the county’s Supervisor of Elections Office website. (There are 857,308 registered voters in the county, according to the elections office.)

While there are local non-partisan public offices in the county, like county commission and school board, Florida is a closed primary state. Primary elections, held every two years, are for voters to select candidates within their party to be voted for in the General Election to assume national, state, county or district public offices.

The General Election will be held on Nov. 8.

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Early Voting For Primary Election Underway

August 11, 2022 (Orange County) – Early voting started Monday for the Florida Primary Election and it will continue through Sunday, Aug. 21 at various locations throughout the county. Early voting hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Many people find voting early – at early voting locations – more convenient and accessible than voting on election day when distractions like bad weather, work and long lines could stop them from casting their ballots.

If you miss early voting, you can vote by mail or vote on Primary Election Day – Tuesday, Aug. 23, at polling sites sprinkled throughout the county. Pay close attention to mail from the county supervisor of elections office because some polling places have changed because of redistricting.

Early vote continues through Tuesday, Aug. 23

Registered voters received or will receive sample ballots to help research candidates who are vying for open public offices.

Key races on ballots include: United States Representative in Congress, Orange County Mayor, several county commission seats, School Board Chair, along with numerous judgeships. Voters will also decide whether to keep a special tax for the school district for essential operating expenses, like paying teachers and support staff. A breakdown of how the money will be used is highlighted on the sample ballot.

There are 20 different locations where registered voters can vote early, including the election office (119 W. Kaley St., Orlando, FL 32806). If you wait to vote on election day, you must vote at your assigned polling place, which is printed on your sample ballot.

To find the early voting location closest to you, call the elections office at (407) 836-2070 or visit the website: http://www.ocfelections.gov. Remember to take your photo and signature identification with you.

Orlando Community News, 2022
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Elections Office Extends Hours To Accommodate Residents Who Want to Register to Vote

The registration deadline is Monday, July 25, for voting in the August 23 Primary Election

July 20, 2022, (Orange County, FL) – Some people may have thought about registering to vote or updating their voter’s registration information and it remained a thought with all that’s going on in our country and even in their own personal lives – like moving and trying to stay healthy.

The good news is the elections office is extending its hours to accommodate people who want to register or update their registration – change name, address or political party, for example, to prepare to vote in the August 23 Primary Election. The deadline to register is this Monday, July 25 so the election’s office will be open for phone calls and in person visits on this Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., election officials announced today. The office will also be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Monday. The elections office is typically closed on weekends and on weekdays, it’s normally open until 5 p.m.

“This is a chance for voters who cannot come in during our normal business hours to make sure they get registered or update their party affiliation before the deadline,” said Bill Cowles, Orange County Supervisor of Elections.

Throughout the state, Central Florida and the county, voters will select key positions for local public office as well as state and national public offices. Here in Orange County, Mayor Jerry L. Demings is up for re-election and has three challengers. There’s a hotly contested county commission seat, for District 6, with seven contenders. Registered voters will get a sample ballot from the elections office in early August – right around the corner from today.

Be prepared: Florida is a closed primary state, in case you did not know. Only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary. There are other races in the county that are non-partisan so if you haven’t selected a party or if you selected a third party, you can still vote on those races. There are quite a few judge positions voters will select. You can always search Google to find out who they are or ask someone you know who works in the judicial system for insight on the candidates.

For more VOTING details go to the elections office website: http://www.ocfelections.gov or call (407) 836-VOTE (8683). The elections office is located at: 119 W. Kaley St., Orlando, FL 32806

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