February 27, 2022 (Eatonville, Florida) – You have seen the signs, right? Political signs once again cover major corridors and intersections throughout Orange County. Yes, it’s election season in local municipalities throughout the county.
If you live in the Eatonville town limit and you are eligible to vote, you should have received information from the town clerk’s office about the upcoming election. Early voting starts Monday, Feb. 28 and ends on Friday, March 4, at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. Election Day voting is Saturday, March 5 at the Eatonville Town Hall. If you live here and you are registered to vote, you have the opportunity to select the Mayor, along with town council members for seats two, three and five. Council Seat Two has the most competition. What’s noticeable is the number of newcomers to local public office races including in the race for seat two. Many of the newcomers are women.
Take Ruthi Critton, Eatonville native who’s also known by her real name – Ruth – who’s running for council seat two. She has never campaigned for public office before but she said she was encouraged to get involved with the city, shortly after graduating from college, working in the banking industry for about six years and moving back into her family home with her husband. Running against incumbent Theo Washington (current Vice Mayor) and former town council member Angela Thomas, Critton said several things sparked her interest in joining the council.
“I’ve always had a lot of pride in my hometown. Mu-Mu [my mother, Muriel Critton]’s great uncles was one of the founders of the town. Then, when I moved back here, the mayor of the town, Eddie Cole, approached me about getting involved so I joined an advisory board and started going to the meetings. There’s always a lot of controversy and I thought, that’s not why 22 men got together and founded the town.”
Critton noted also there are very few young adults involved in the town. “Eatonville has so much to offer and the only way to show it is to get young adults to come back and get involved. It’s my intention to serve…I want people to feel the way I feel.”
Her campaign, themed “A New Choice, A New Voice,” seeks to bring back programs for the youth – and not just recreational ones, she said. Youth ages 14-18 need more attention; they need programs to prepare them to take care of themselves, said Critton, a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University who works in estate planning and real estate law. She said the town has a lot of seniors and it would be good for those residents to mentor young people in the town. She would also like to have special events for senior residents. The third thing she mentioned was something most folk talk about when it comes to Eatonville – the oldest Black incorporated municipality in the United States: economic development. Outside of COVID-19 and its aftermath, people should still be able to work their business from within their own community, said Critton, the oldest daughter of Pastor Ronald Critton of Beth Tehillah Ministries in Casselberry and the late Muriel Critton.
Angela Thomas is not new to the Town Council but she’s been away since 2016 when she said her schedule did not permit her to dedicate time to Eatonville. Now, working by day as a title clerk and mortgage loan officer, she said she can be more focused.
“Eatonville has so much potential,” said Thomas, a Kentucky native who has lived in the town for more than 12 years. “We are unique in our own way and there’s nothing we can’t do as a group.
Somehow, we have to put God back into the equation, working for the betterment of the people.”
She pointed out the significance of the names of several men who were influential in establishing Eatonville; Their names are biblical, she said of Joseph Clarke and Josiah Eaton. She said she didn’t have one particular thing to address in reference to what issues she wants to work on.
Thomas is a mother of seven adult children and grandmother of 24. She is a member of Macedonia.
For more information about Critton’s campaign, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or about Thomas’ campaign, call (321) 310-6233.
Editor’s Note: We were unable to reach Theo Washington for this article but we will update it if possible, prior to the election on Saturday. Also, in other Eatonville election news: Incumbent Mayor Eddie Cole has a repeat challenger: Angie Gardner. Also, incumbent councilmember Rodney Daniels faces off against former councilmember Tarus Mack for seat three. For seat five, Wanda Randolph faces Marilyn Davis-Sconions.