October 31, 2018 (Orlando) – The signs are everywhere. On the side of the road, on cars, on highway overpasses and on billboards everywhere. Candidates signs. Signs about some of those long-winded state amendments, signs about Early Voting (which ends in Orange County this Sunday) and signs about the big day – Tuesday, Nov. 6, Election Day.
You can say this is Round Two of the election season (Round One was the Primary Election in August) and the results of the upcoming election will be historical, especially here in Florida.
We will elect a new governor in Florida and there’s a chance the state will get its first African-American governor. That’s right, Andrew Gillum could be the first if he’s elected by voters, since Florida became a state in 1845. (He will join a select few of African-Americans who have served as governor in the United States.)
Florida voters will also either re-elect United States Senator Bill Nelson or elect Rick Scott to take Nelson’s seat in Congress. Florida is one of the key states in determining whether Congress will maintain its Republican majority rule (maintain a majority of seats in the Senate and House of Representatives) or if Democrats will win more seats to gain majority in the Senate or House or both.
So to say that the upcoming General Election is important and every vote matters would be an understatement.
On the state level, Democrat Gillum, current mayor of Tallahassee, is running against Republican Ron DeSantis, a former U.S. representative in Florida. Gillum has the endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former president Barack Obama while DeSantis has the endorsement of President Donald Trump. DeSantis was accused the day after his primary win, of using an insensitive and derogatory statement about Gillum: “The last thing we need to do is monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” according to news reports (Tallahassee Democrat newspaper online). The statement was made a day after DeSantis won his primary election in August – on FOX News, reports said. Gillum has maintained his support of some sort of healthcare for all, increase of the minimum wage and increases in education.
On the local level, Orange County voters have another play to run – select a new sheriff. One of the three candidates vying the seat held by Sheriff Jerry Demings, will fulfill the remaining two years of his term. (Demings, recently elected as county mayor, will be sworn into his new role in December.)
The candidates are: Joe Lopez (former troop commander with the Florida Highway Patrol), John Mina (City of Orlando Police Chief) and Darryl Sheppard (small business owner/investor).
The race has gotten a lot of attention with one candidate with no law enforcement experience, who has an arrest record (Sheppard) and Chief Mina getting criticism for the handling of excessive force cases during his tenure.
So every registered voter in the county should pay close attention and vote. This is not the time to stand on the sidelines. We all have to get into the game and exercise our right to vote. Not only that, but every registered voter should research the candidates, judges and all, as well as the state amendment questions (all 12 of them), before casting their vote.
We have to know and not just vote based on name recognition (seeing a sign) nor party affiliation (voting solely along political party lines). Wrong is Wrong, no matter what party a candidate belongs to. (Shout out to my momma for that reminder recently!)
If you have any questions about the status of your vote-by-mail ballot (also known as absentee ballot), about early voting or about your polling place (as many polling places changed earlier this year), contact the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Offices: (407) 836-2070 or http://www.ocfelections.com
-Trish Martin, OCN Publisher & Editor, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlando Community News, 2018