Election Connection: You Have a Voice

menvotingOrlando, September 14 – You have a voice. Use it during the upcoming 2016 General Election.

I had a conversation with a couple of people and I asked if they had voted during the recent Primary Election. One did not respond. The other said no because he didn’t like any of the options (people who were running). I quickly responded: This is not just for president; it’s for local and state races too and changes to the state constitution. If you don’t vote, you are allowing other people to speak for you, I said.

That conversation took place during early voting so I’m not sure if either of them actually voted but I am inclined now to remind every one I know to get prepared to vote and when the time comes, please do vote!

Let your voice be heard! 

With voter turnout in Orange County under 20 percent, we all have got to not only commit to voting ourselves, we have to reach out to our neighbors – coworkers, church family members and ask them if they are registered and if they plan to vote. We owe it to the people who years ago fought for us to have the right to vote.

The General Election is on November 8 but if you are not registered in the county that you live in or claim as your permanent residence, you can not vote.

On October 4, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office will begin mailing out vote-by-mail ballots (absentee ballots) and the last day to register to vote is October 11 for the election.

Voters (We) will help select the next President of the United States as well as fill open Congressional seats, Legislative seats and County-wide seats such as Orange County Sheriff, Judges, Clerk of Court, etc.

Early voting will start on October 24

I’ve got to say this: Who you vote for in the Presidential race is your business but there are stark differences between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Real Estate mogul Donald Trump. You can research the two, right on the internet. Goggle them!

You may not agree with everything the party does so go with the candidate who you feel most align to your values and your future desires for the country.

Let’s not let the day after Election Day catch us by surprise – in any way.

As people of color, we can’t afford not to vote folk in/out of office, better organize ourselves and hold our elected officials accountable (on a larger scale). Our agenda needs to be at the table and we want to see major changes especially in the country’s justice system.

Also, if you’re going to debate about any of the races, do not resort to name calling. God never called us to tear each other down but build each other up. Period. (I had to take it there because it has gotten out of control – on every level.)

Your emotions will cloud your vision every time. You will end up doing and saying things you will regret later. So try to stick to the facts!

Above all, pray for God’s will for the upcoming election…that people are running for office for the right reasons: That people would exercise their right to vote and research the candidates and vote wisely.

Sidenote: You don’t always have to stick with your party on every race!

(Source of information for this article – 2016 Election Calendar, Orange County Supervisor of Elections website: http://www.ocfelections.com)


-Trish Martin, Publisher & Editor 
Orlando Community News 2016



Posted in Community news that can help

What Time Is It? Time to Vote!

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Hopefully, you are ready. You see the signs; you may have seen some of the candidates – live and in living color. You should have your sample ballots by now.

The only thing left to do is study the candidates and issues and vote wisely. In some circles, you have been challenged to get five people out to vote as well.

You can vote by absentee ballot (request your ballot), by early voting or by voting at your polling place on Primary Election Day, August 30.

Early voting started in Orange County on Monday, August 15 and will continue through Sunday, August 28.

In Seminole County, early voting will start on Saturday, August 20 and end on Saturday, August 27.

So you don’t have to wait until the end of the month to exercise your right to vote!

There are more than a dozen early voting locations throughout the county (Orange) – open daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In Seminole County, early voting locations are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on its early voting days.

Visit your elections office website to see the early voting locations.

The good thing about the Sample Ballot is you can confirm your polling places and voting districts , see the names of all of the candidates, as well as the issues on which you will vote.

Here’s another good thing: You can mark your selections before going to vote and take it with you – into your booth – to use as a guide. That will save you time!

Don’t skip these primary elections – you may not like the candidates that everyone else voted for.

Like President Obama said during his Democratic National Convention speech: Don’t Boo, vote!

You may not be a fan of politics but the people in public offices make and vote on laws that dictate your everyday life.  What do you think about the proposed $15 an hour pay plan?

Check out candidates at local forums and debates or Google them.


Posted in Community news that can help

Registration Deadline Monday, August 1 for Primary Elections

register to voteJuly 25 Update (Orlando) – Are you ready to vote?

The last day to register is 5 p.m. on Monday, August 1 for the August 30 Primary Election.

(I can hear some of you all thinking and/or saying: the Primary Election doesn’t matter. Hold up! It does and it’s really how Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for the presidency. Too many Republicans didn’t vote!)

Please beware: our Supervisor of Elections Office has extended its hours to help you to be ready on election day: The office will be open on this Saturday (July 30) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you recently moved into Orange County or within the county, call or go down to the elections office to update your address so that you won’t have any problems voting (whether early, by absentee ballot or on Election Day).

If you have not selected a political party, you will not be able to vote on most of the open public offices. Solution: pick a party and register before Monday’s deadline and make sure you do some research of the candidates and issues and then vote. Google them!

Reminder: Florida is a closed primary state. If you wish to vote in a partisan primary, you must be registered with that particular party affiliation (Chapter 101.021, Florida Statutes). All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote on issues and non-partisan races.

The exception to the party affiliation requirement occurs when all the candidates in a contest are of the same party affiliation. In this case there is a Universal Primary and all qualified voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in this contest. (Source: Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website)

For Orange County commission, voters will select someone to fill seats 1, 3 and 5 and there is a crowded field of candidates – four for each one of the commission seats!

Voters will also decide on just about every public office the county has: Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, Property Appraiser; Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, Comptroller as well as School Board members: Seats 4, 5, 6 and 7.

There are judges to select also. These are the public offices we sometimes forget about and randomly select on election day. Do your research on these judges or ask around and be a wise voter.

There is a list of all candidates and a link to a list of other candidates (state and national) on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office website: http://www.ocfelections.com

The elections office is located at: 119 W. Kaley St., Orlando, FL 32806.

Call ahead if you need directions or have any other questions about voting in the upcoming elections: (407) 836-2070.

© Orlando Community News, 2016






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Opportunity For Fresh Start: Restoration of Rights Workshop on July 16

Trying to make a change for the better after serving time?

One way to do that is to have your rights restored and then register to vote or improve your chances of starting a business or getting a job. (Sidenote: If you have been convicted of a felony you may not register to vote until your voting rights are restored.) 

How can you restore your rights? Find out at the Restoration of Civil Rights, Sealing and Expungement Workshop on Saturday, July 16.

The workshop, sponsored by Siplin Law and Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd, will be held 10 a.m. – 12 noon at the West Orange Recreation Center in Winter Garden (309 SW Crown Point Road, Winter Garden, FL 34787).

There, presenters from various local and state offices, will talk about legal aid, jobs for ex-offender, restoring rights, etc.

Organizers are offering these resources to people whose sentences have been completed, probation/supervision completed and 100% victim restitution paid. Also, you can not have any pending cases on the state or federal level.

There are certain documents you should take for registration.

Call ahead for details: (407) 802-2400.



© Orlando Community News, 2016

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Men on Purpose: Orlando Native Rod-Z


When Rod-Z said, “You have to come to ‘this’ show because every show is different,” he told the truth.

Opening for the legendary Patti Labelle at the Dr. Phillips Center, he cracked up some folk up, talking about how we all need God: “I found out when you get older, you get a new stomach. You can’t eat the same stuff you ate when you were younger. Your new stomach talk to you.” One night on stage, he said, his stomach started talking to him and he had to call on the name of the Lord to make it to the bathroom on time.

Then, on May 6 at the New Church of Faith’s Night of Laughter and Praise, Rod-Z gave a practical solution to some of the mayhem going on in the Orlando area: “What we need is ‘mean’ mommas –

Mommas who know where you are at all times.

Mommas who don’t let their daughters have a boyfriend at 12 and 13 years old…”

“We didn’t have no cell phones. You better be home before,” he said, pausing for audience participation in the joke. “…the street lights came on.”

And: “You ain’t never got a whooping unless after you got one, you prayed for God to kill her or you said, ‘umma’ run away!”

If you live in Central Florida and you’ve been paying attention, you know that Roderick Zeigler, better known as Rod-Z or simply Rod, Orlando native, has been hustling and not just telling jokes on stage but also working to better our community.

The Man


Rod-Z (right) with Tom Joyner

A well-known comedian, musician and actor with 20 years of experience, Rod-Z, in addition to opening for Patti, recently released his third comedy DVD called Homecoming and performed at the 6th Annual Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fellowship Luncheon at the Rosen Centre Hotel (hosted by Lucille O’Neal – Shaquille O’Neal’s mother)…and the list of events goes on and on! The DVD titles alone will make you chuckle: Stop Me If I’m Lying (2000) and I Ain’t Lied Yet (2005).

His off-stage work include: initiating a “Sign up for Something” anti-violence effort and mentoring through his fraternity Chi Tau Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Inc. He’s also an active member of the Hope Church of Orlando.

“I just want to get people off the streets,” he said during a recent interview, in reference to ‘Sign up for Something.’ “The effort will focus on creating jobs and volunteer voter registration drives – in one location. He’s currently working on another live comedy routine.

Funny and socially conscientious!

Some of his family members saw the funny in him early on in his life.

When he was young, his uncle used to call him Slappy White (as in Melvin “Slappy” White, American comedian and actor who worked with Redd Foxx back in the 50’s and 60s). The young Rod-Z spent a lot of time watching comedians perform on TV.

“I loved to laugh,” said Rod, oldest of five children (He’s the only boy) and 1989 Jones High School graduate. “I used watch Flip Wilson and used to sneak and watch Richard Pryor. I saw Eddie Murphy (long pause) on HBO! [LOL] That’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do. “

Rod spent a many of Saturday nights watching Saturday Night Live, rehashing the skits and making up his own skits.

Later, he would go on to college – Bethune Cookman College (now University) and study Mass Communication. At BCC, he played percussion in the marching band. He’s always loved music and started playing drums in the 5th grade under the tutelage of James “Chief” Wilson.

Before he “saw the light” to become a full-time comedian/entertainer, Rod said he was working, and had just gotten a promotion on his job.

“I really had to pray,” he said. “I had just gotten into the church…I was really praying.”

His first major opportunity to do comedy came from Kirk Franklin and God’s Property.

As far as acting is concerned, he has done stage plays (The Colored Museum and A Soldiers Play), movies (Black Spring Break I and II) and countless TV shows / special events (ABC’s Buffalo Wings Citrus Bowl Parade), BET’s Comic View and ESPNU’s The Battle). And list goes on.

The Material

meanmommasrodzThe world has changed since Rod got started professionally. His material is always evolving, he said. “You have to keep up with the times but be true to who you are. I grow as I go.

I am a comedian who is a Christian. I tell the same jokes at church as I do at the club.”

For the past three or four years he said he has been working on being a better son, a better uncle; a better friend and a better communicator. He’s living one day at a time.


His Mantra

So what drives Rod-Z? He says it’s the desire to fulfill his plans. He referenced the Bible often, saying there are stories in it that pushes him.

“I know in the Bible, God says try me and see….I thought, ‘Oh you’re guaranteeing blessings!”

The one main thing people struggle with in their faith is money, he said.

“They work hard, keep working, and keep pushing…It’s got to be God! You’ve got to have God [in your life] to be a full-time comedian.”

He is definitely a hustler, in a good way. To relieve stress or minimize stress Rod rides – on his Harley twice a week or whenever he has free time. To him, a ride on his motorcycle to the beach is a perfect day.

Check him out online on Rod-Z.com, at Become a Rod Z fan! on Facebook and follow him on Twitter/Periscope: @rodcomic

© Orlando Community News, 2016



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Our Men on Purpose

New to Orlando Community News is an occasional spotlight called “Our Men, On Purpose.” A tribute to Central Florida men minding their businesses and reaching back to improve their communities. The goal is to inspire our younger brothers in the community. If these guys can dream big, work hard and watch their dream unfold, so can you! First up, Orlando’s own well-known comedian, musician and actor Rod-Z!!! Stay tuned and stay connected.


OCN Founder & Editor Trish Martin with Comedian, Actor and Musician Rod-Z. Photo by: Shima Clark



Posted in Community news that can help, Entertainment, Faith and Family, Youth | Tagged , , , , ,

Election Connection: Run-Off Election for Apopka, Time to Register for Fall Elections

One of our goals here at Orlando Community News is to keep our readers abreast of what’s going on during the election season. In Central Florida, there are elections throughout the year  – early (many city elections), summertime (many primaries, county and statewide elections) and fall (general, congressional and presidential elections).

In between and around the same times are Special Elections – you know, if an elected officials resigns or has to leave office and/or Special Referendum/Amendment Elections.

The goal is for you to beware of what’s going on in your community, whom to call or hold accountable for important issues, the best way to engage your representatives and main thing: Vote During Every Election In Which You Are Eligible.  Your vote is your voice. 

Why complain or comment about anything going on in your neighborhood, city, county, state and our country, if you don’t take the time and/or care enough to research the public officials / candidates and issues, register (or update your registration if need be) and then actually vote? 

Here’s some updates on what’s going on locally:

  • If you live in the City of Apopka, you have the opportunity to vote in the Run-Off election on Tuesday, April 12. You can vote by absentee ballot, vote early (starting on Monday, April 4 and ending on Friday, April 8) or vote on election day, April 12 at the Apopka Community Center, 519 S. Central Avenue. Two city council seats (3 & 4)  are up for grabs as no candidate got a majority of the votes in the March city election. Contact the city clerk if you have any questions or concerns: (407) 703-1704.
  • Next: The Primary Election on August 30 for county, state and national public offices. The deadline for new registration is 29 days before the election. Please, don’t wait until the last minute; you may forget. Same thing if you want to CHANGE YOUR PARTY AFFILIATION. Florida is a closed primary state, meaning you can vote in primary elections based on the political party for which you are registered…Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc. If you do not choose a political party you will be registered with NO PARTY affiliation and will not be able to vote if there are several primaries going on, such as now. Of course, if there are referendums or general issuers on your ballot, you can vote on those. (By the way, as of today, April 1, there are almost 200,000 of you all who have not selected a party affiliation, according to the elections office.) Those who are already registered voters: If you have moved, changed your name, etc, update your information. Trying to resolve issues like these at the polling place is not a good idea. Save yourself some time and headache by taking care everything with the supervisor of elections office beforehand.

Source of most of this information: Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. Call or visit the website: (407) 836-2070. http://www.ocfelections.com.



Contact: orlandocommunitynews@gmail.com

© Orlando Community News, 2016


Posted in Community news that can help, Election Connection, Faith and Family

Kimberly Talks: Money Matters

Editor’s Note: Excited to bring you another Kimberly Talks: Money Matters column! Hold on to your seats because it’s Women’s History Month and she’s talking Money & Women – how financing planning for women differs from financial planning for men! WHM highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society (Wikipedia.org) … It’s celebrated here in the United States, in United Kingdom and in Australia. The “holiday” corresponds with International Women’s Day on March 8. It’s a good time to connect with great women and compliment them. I must say this: Kimberly, job well done on your many years of unselfish money education throughout Central Florida and beyond!


photo (1)Kimberly Talks: Money Matters 


Financial Planning for Women

As women, we face several challenges when it comes to financial planning.

First, women still earn approximately 25% less than our male counterparts. The issue with women earning less is that we tend to have smaller retirement plan balances, pensions, and receive less in Social Security benefits. So besides the obvious of trying to shorten the pay gap, there are several other actions we need to take. First, be diligent and prudent about saving and investing…HAVE A PLAN and Stick to IT. Second, make sure that you are properly allocated when you do invest. Make sure your risk tolerance matches your time horizon.

Second, being a mother and/or caregiver is in my opinion, one of the most important jobs, and they are jobs, that a woman can hold. However, spending an average of 12 years out of the workforce tends to result in a much smaller amount of lifetime earnings which translates to women making smaller contributions to their retirement plans and fewer taking advantage of employer matches. This again leads to smaller retirement plan balances, pensions, and less in Social Security benefits. The average retirement plan balance of women is about 60% of that of the average man.

Third, there are more and more stories every day of women who find themselves in a financial crisis because of death of a spouse. Widows can experience a drop by as much as 50% in their social security checks and any pension income when their spouse dies.

A question that has to be addressed is: how long will your retirement last because we live longer. Longevity risk is real and should be addressed in any financial plan.

Another factor that we typically overlook is that women typically have higher healthcare expenses because we live longer. So it is important that we start investing early and often! We need to monitor our plans to ensure that we are putting ourselves in a position to outpace the effect of inflation and taxes. Remember, it’s not our Grandmother’s economy.

Finally, as women we have to do a better job of becoming more financially literate and savvy. I often tell people if you just read the front page of the Wall Street Journal, you will know more than most Americans. But, don’t stop there. Engage a financial advisor. Ask questions. There are several good books out there to read and help gain more knowledge. Get involved!

So you might be saying, “Kimberly, is there any good news?”
YES, there is! Women now own 9.4 million businesses -30% of all businesses in the US. These businesses generate about $1.5 trillion dollars in revenue AND Women-owned firms now employ over 7.9 million workers. That equates to 1 in 7 jobs!

-Kimberly R. Stewart

Posted in Community news that can help, Faith and Family, Work

Early Voting Starts – Presidential Primaries

EarlyVotingOCOrange County registered voters can now go vote early for the person they prefer within their party to be the next President of the United States.

Early voting started today, Tuesday, Feb. 29, for the Presidential Preference Primary Election and will continue until March 13. Hours at the various early voting locations: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Those who miss out during this early voting time will have to vote on election day, Tuesday, March 15.  (Note: Florida is a closed primary state so voters must be registered to vote with a specific party to vote in this election.)

Early voting has become a popular way to vote for busy families, because it normally takes less time to actually vote than it does on election day, sites are conveniently located throughout the county and voters can update their contact information at the same time.

Orange County early voting locations: Supervisor of Elections Office on West Kaley Street, along with select libraries and community centers. Go to http://www.ocfelections.com to see the complete list of Early Voting Center Locations.

Two major things to remember: You must take your signed, photo I.D. with you to vote and to make your vote count (really), vote for one of the people listed on your primary sample ballot, WHO IS STILL IN THE RACE.  On the Republican side, there are five people still in the race, out of 17 who announced their candidacy but dropped out. (In: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.) On the Democrat side, there are two people left, out of six who announced officially they were in it but got out. (In: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.)

Yours truly voted early today, at my local library! Good to see familiar IvoteStickerfaces working the site (a friend from the Wayne Densch YMCA in Pine Hills and another friend from the church I attend, Macedonia M.B.Church in Eatonville…You both rock!) I changed my address and voted in about five minutes!

Stay connected.


© Orlando Community News, 2016

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Election Season Here: Register and Get Ready…Vote in Every Election

You see the signs. People’s names on signs planted in soil on the side of road – one after the other. Throughout Central Florida. People’s names on billboards, along with their faces and the public offices they want. You have seen some candidates in church more often and in holiday parades.

It’s election season again and it’s not just about the big Presidential Election in November, (Although some of our friends and family only vote during that time – Shame on you!).

Here are some key dates for you to keep in mind:

Tuesday, Feb. 16 (today) – Deadline for registration to vote in  the March 15 Presidential Preference Primary. Hopefully, you have double checked your registration, say for instance if you have moved or changed your name.

In Florida, you have to select a political party to vote in party primaries. Today is the deadline to make a change, if you like.

An update to a voter’s signature for provisional or absentee ballot verification purposes must be submitted no later than the start of canvassing of absentee ballots which could start as early as Feb. 29, according to Florida’s Department of State website.

If you are already registered to vote and you only need to update your address or name, you can do so with your local Supervisor of Elections Office.

Heads up Orange County votes: accessibility to our elections offices has changed since the exit from Interstate 4 has closed down (due to the Ultimate I-4 Project). Go to the office’s website to get the detour routes and other pertinent information about voting this year, citywide, countywide, statewide and nationwide: http://www.ocfelections.com. Or just call: (407) 836-2070.

Sidenote: There are new U.S. Congressional and Florida Senate maps so you may have a new voting district.

Feb. 24 – Ocoee Political Forum, from 6-8 p.m., in the city hall commission chambers. Presented by the Woman’s Club of Ocoee for the candidates running for the Mayor seat and District 3 Commission seat. Ocoee voters: prepare for your city election on Tuesday, March 15. Absentee ballots and early voting are available. Contact your city clerk for the details: (407) 905-3100, ext. 1022.

Of course, there are other elections happening around the county on around March 15: Apopka, Winter Park, etc. Contact your city clerk’s offices for details.

Stay tuned and connected.

© Orlando Community News, 2016


Posted in Community news that can help, Election Connection