Election Registration Deadline: Tuesday, Feb. 18

February 6, 2020 (Orange County, FL) — It’s one thing to have emotions run all over the place, about the Impeachment of Donald John Trump and it’s another to do something about it.

There are 11 Democratic candidates still in the 2020 Presidential race. There are also two candidates on the Republican side, running against Trump, according to the latest news reports. The deadline to register to vote in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary election when you can choose one of those candidates is Tuesday, February 18.

Let your voice be heard: make sure you are registered where you live and then, VOTE.

The primary election is on March 17 and you must be registered with either the Democratic Party or Republican Party. Pick one, if you haven’t already, because Florida is a closed primary state, meaning only Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary election and only Republicans can vote in theirs.

“About 30 percent of Orange County registered voters have no party affiliation,” said Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles in a recent press release. “Unless they update their party affiliation by Feb. 18, they will not have the chance to vote in the Presidential Preference Primary.”

Many people move into the state and between counties within the state and often forget to update their registration with their new address and/or name changes. Some new to the state don’t know it’s a closed primary state and that they have to pick a party in order to vote, the press release noted. (Not all states have closed primaries like Florida.)

Per election officials, Feb. 18 is also the deadline to vote in six upcoming city elections: Apopka, Belle Isle, Eatonville, Maitland, Winter Garden and Winter Park. (City Elections are just as important as national elections because most of our immediate needs have to do with what’s happening in our local communities.)

Early voting for both the Presidential Preference Primary and the city elections will be held daily March 2 – March 15, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is 5 p.m. on March 7.

On Dec. 18, Trump became only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. A fourth, Richard Nixon, resigned before he was formally impeached. A majority of the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. The Senate acquitted Trump on Feb. 5, in what some called an invalid trial because Republican senators (Senate majority) voted against hearing any key witnesses and reviewing any key documents. Basically, no first hand evidence was presented. Trump’s acquittal came a day after he delivered his State of the Union speech.


The best way to check your registration status is go to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website: at http://www.ocfelections.com or call the office at (407) 836-2070.

Orlando Community News, 2020
Posted in Community news that can help

Orlando: It’s Election Day in District 6

BD6B95E0-1E76-4575-B083-DC01CA93AA84December 3, 2019 (Orlando) – It’s Election Day in the City of Orlando. If you live in District 6, go to your polling place and vote, if you haven’t already voted early or voted by mail-in ballot.

This is a Run-off election between Bakari Burns and Gary Siplin. They want to be your city commissioner so Goggle them or ask somebody about them, choose one and go vote!

Every vote counts! Their race is in a run-off election because no one got a majority of the votes in the city’s most recent election. (Burns got 46% of the votes, Siplin got 39%, Lawanna Gelzer got 14%). A little over 200 votes separated Burns and Siplin.)

So people – remember to vote today, if you live in city limits and in District 6 – which includes a huge chunk of the southwest portion of the city.

Orlando Commissioners are elected from six respective districts. The commissioners are elected for four-year terms. The District 6 commission seat was formerly held by long-time commissioner Sam B. Ings, who ran in the mayoral race but lost.

If you’re registered to vote but not sure what district you live in or go to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website – http://www.ocfelections.com or call the elections office: (407) 836-2070.

Now is not the time to stay home! #YourVoteisYourVoice


Posted in Community news that can help

Orlando: Early Voting Starts October 28

Early voting in the City of Orlando starts next Monday, October 28 and runs through the the following Saturday and Sunday. Early voting will take place at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office, 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806.

The hours on Oct. 28 – Nov. 1: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 3: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Here are some other important dates for the city's General Election:

Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. - Public test of voting equipment

Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. - Deadline to request a Vote-By-Mail ballot

Oct. 31 - Last day to make donations to candidates

Nov. 5 from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. - ELECTION DAY


All elections are important but this one is crucial for Orlando because voters will either re-elect long-term Mayor Buddy Dyer (first elected in 2003) or select from two other candidates: long-term District 6 Commissioner Sam B. Ings (former police captain who has run against Dyer before and acted as mayor pro-tem a couple of times) and Navy veteran and non-profit consultant Aretha Simons (who announced her candidacy back in 2017.) Ings says it’s time for a new era of leadership and Simons says it’s time for a new voice at City Hall. 

City Council seats 2, 4 and 6 are also being voted on, although only Incumbent Antonio “Tony” Ortiz has qualified for his District 2 seat. Candidates for District 4: Incumbent Patty Sheehan and Corey DeVogel (who qualified but withdrew). Candidates for District 6:  Bakari Burns, Lawanna Gelzer and Gary Siplin. 

Election officials have a friendly reminder also: Even though your residential address says Orlando, FL, you may not live within Orlando city limits. This election for the City of Orlando only. Check your voter registration/eligibility ahead of Election Day: http://www.ocfelections.com


Orlando Community News, 2019



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Registration Deadline October 7 for Orlando Elections

October 3, 2019 (Orlando) — With national news bombarding headlines and TV news, residents here who want to vote in next month’s city elections have to refocus on what’s happening in town: First, the deadline to register is Monday, Oct. 7, for the City of Orlando’s General Election in November. In addition, Early Voting starts a few weeks later on October 28.

If you live in the city limits of Orlando and you’re already registered, great! You may want contact all of your family members and neighbors to remind them about the registration deadline and early voting. Orlando is the only city in Orange County that has an election in November. It is set for Tuesday, November 5.

Voters will either keep current Mayor Buddy Dyer or elect a brand new mayor. (He has competition from District 6 Commissioner Sam B. Ings and Aretha Simons, who filed her intentions to run back in November 2017.)

Also, city commission seats 2,4 and 6 are up for grabs. District 2 Commissioner Antonio (Tony) Ortiz has no competition for his seat. Corey DeVogel recently joined the District 4 race against incumbent Commissioner Patty Sheehan.  Three candidates: Gary Siplin, Lawanna Gelzer and Bakari Burns are vying for the District 6 seat. (Vicki-Elaine Felder withdrew from the race.)

You can register or update your existing voter registration online at: RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, at a driver’s license office, at a public library; at the Center for Independent Living, WIC/DCF offices and at any elections office. You can also register to vote in person at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office: 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806. (407) 836-2070.


Orlando Community News, 2019



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Back to School: Sales Tax Holiday Starts Friday, Aug. 2

In addition to the numerous Back to School giveaways throughout the Orlando area where parents can get free school supplies for their children, the State of Florida kicks off its Back- to-School “Sales Tax Holiday” Aug. 2-6, Friday- Tuesday, when parents can also save some money/don’t pay taxes when they go out and buy certain school supplies. Everyone would agree: every little bit helps and the savings can add up especially if there is more than one school age child in a household.

Common items parents, guardians and village supporters can save tax monies on include: qualified school supplies ($15 or less), qualified computers and accessories ($1000 or less), as well as clothing, footwear and some accessories ($60 or less).  You can find a complete list on the state’s Department of Revenue website: http://www.floridarevenue.com






Posted in Community news that can help

Local Elections Today

March 12, 2019, Orange County, FL – Don’t say you didn’t know! Mailings have gone out, candidates’ signs are on the sides of main streets and you’ve read about it here: Local elections for mayor and city commissioners are today in Ocoee, Winter Park, Belle Isle and Windermere. So if you live within your city limits and you are an eligible voter for today’s elections, do your civic duty – go to your polling place and vote! Go Belle Isle: You all are voting for a MAYOR!  Go Ocoee: Some of you all have an opportunity to make history by electing a second Black person to your city council.

If you’re not sure if you’re in a district that has an election today or you’re not sure where your polling place is, contact the Orange County Supervisor of Elections  office or your city clerk’s office. Supervisor of Elections: (407) 836-2070, http://www.ocfelections.org


Orlando Community News, 2019


Posted in Community news that can help

City Elections: Early Voting Now Through Friday


March 5, 2019 – Early Voting has started and will run through this Friday for city elections throughout Orange County.  Four cities in the county have elections a week from today, on Tuesday, March 12, including Ocoee and Windermere here in west Orange County.

If you live within one of those city limits and you are an eligible registered voter, you should have gotten a sample ballot in the mail from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. (Or a vote-by-mail ballot, if you requested one) Sample ballots include details about your polling place, the public offices up for grabs and the candidates wanting to represent you in those public offices.

Early voting has become more and more popular for registered voters because they can vote when it’s convenient for them, not just on Election Day (typically on Tuesdays when people work).

While some voters like to mail their ballots, they may have had a change of heart, especially in Florida, after the Mid-Term Election last November. Some people who voted by mail found themselves researching their ballot online and/or by making phone calls, days after the election to make sure their vote actually counted. With crucial races being decided on, such as Florida governor, there was widespread concern over ballots not signed, signatures on the ballots not matching signatures on file at elections offices and ballots not delivered to the elections office on time.  

Voting early or on election day may be the better options. 

For details on upcoming city elections, contact your city clerk’s office or go to the county Supervisor of Elections Office website: http://www.ocfelections.com or call (407) 836-2070. 

Orlando Community News, 2019



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City Elections Straight Ahead on March 12

BD6B95E0-1E76-4575-B083-DC01CA93AA84February 11, 2019 (Orange County, Florida) — They are just as important as state and national elections but people often forget about them: city elections. If you live in the city of Belle Isle, Ocoee, Windermere or Winter Park, you may have an opportunity to vote for a new mayor or other public officials in your town on Tuesday, March 12.

It all depends on whether you live in a district that has open public positions and whether your city votes at large or in single member districts.   (At large means all registered voters elect their public officials citywide and in single member districts, registered voters elect public officials within established city districts.)

In Belle Isle, voters will elect a new Mayor and District 3 Commissioner. Holly Bobrowski, Nick Fouraker and Rick Miller are vying for the mayoral seat, while Karl Shuck and Ben Bateman are seeking the District 3 seat.  The incumbent candidates in District 2 and District 4, Anthony Carugno and Mike Sims, ran unopposed, respectively. Council members and mayor are elected at large and serve three-year terms.

Ocoee had three open positions, including incumbent Mayor but Mayor Rusty Johnson and incumbent District 3 Commissioner Richard Firstner both ran unopposed. The city could make history again with the election of Larry Brinson, Sr. to its commission.  Brinson, who is running against incumbent John W. Grogan for the District 1 seat, would join George Oliver III, as the city’s second African-American elected to council in the city’s history.  Oliver won his District 4 seat in 2017 by only 41 votes and became the city’s first African-American to get elected to the council. Ocoee’s Mayor is elected at large and city commissioners are elected from single member districts and serve four-year terms.

In the Town of Windermere, incumbent Mayor Gary Bruhn ran unopposed to fill the remainder of an one-year term. Three council seats, elected at large, are up for grabs. The candidates are: Liz Andert, Mike Hargreaves, Bob McKinley (incumbent), Bill Martini, Richard Montgomery (incumbent) and Dina Pryor. The three winning council members will serve a two-year term.

In Winter Park, long-time City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper ran unopposed for her District 3 seat, while three candidates vie for the District 4 seat: Barbara Chandler, Todd Weaver and Pete Weldon (incumbent).  Council members are elected at large.

There will be a run-off election April 9 in the cities of Belle Isle and Winter Park, if needed.

The City of Orlando’s General Election is set for Tuesday, November 5. Voters will elect a new mayor or re-elect Buddy Dyer and pick from candidates vying for commission seats in districts 2,4 and 6.

Orlando Community News, 2019
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Amendment 4: Registration Opens Today for Many Ex-Felons

January 8, 2019 (Orlando) – When voters in Florida overwhelmingly voted Yes on Amendment 4 last November, they spoke loud and clear: People convicted of certain crimes who have done their time and fulfilled their responsibilities to the court should have their voting rights restored immediately.

Today, in Orange County and every county in the state, registration opened for new voters, including former convicted felons who are eligible to vote pursuant to the terms of the enacted amendment (from the county’s elections office website.)

Anyone affected by the amendment may want to register TODAY. The urgency is because incoming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had said recently in news reports that Amendment 4, which was approved by 64.6 percent (or 5.2 million) of Florida’s voters, shouldn’t go into effect until state lawmakers pass some type of “implementing language” in a bill that he would need to sign (Tampa Bay Times). That could delay the registration process by at least two months (when the legislative session starts). The domino effect: It may prevent many people from voting in city elections.  City elections normally take place in the first quarter of the year. (For example: Some cities in Orange County have their elections in March.) 

Ex-felons who qualify based on the amendment can register to vote today at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office: 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806. Phone: (407) 836-2070.

An elections office spokesperson said anyone who believes they have met the requirements of the amendment can come down to the office and complete the registration form with their signature, which will be kept on file.

The new voters can also download the application from the elections office website – http://www.ocfelections.com/ –  complete it and return to the elections office or obtain and complete a form at their local library. Forms may also be returned to the library.

Online registration is available through a State of Florida website. The website requires state drivers license or identification card information, as well as other personal information. Note: the signature on the I.D. provided online will be kept on record, the county elections office official said. (https://www.registertovoteflorida.gov)

So if you obtained your driver’s license or I.D. card years ago – as a teenager for example, your signature is probably outdated. (Just like your picture!)

It’s best to go the elections office so your current signature is on file. Signatures matter during elections, mainly for mail-in ballots (formerly known as absentee ballots). Voters signatures on their election ballot must match their signature on file with the elections office or there’s a chance their vote won’t count.


Orlando Community News, 2019


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CFABJ Celebrates 35 years and Inducts Six Into its Hall of Fame


CFABJ Hall of Fame Inductees from left: Monica May Ashford, Mark McEwen, Kena Lewis, Gail Paschall-Brown, CFABJ President LaFontaine Oliver, Drs. Florence and Stanley Alexander.  (Photo: NancyJo Brown, 106Foto)

Giving honor where honor is due, members of the Central Florida Association of Black Journalists (CFABJ) on Dec. 1 named six esteemed journalists, media personalities, philanthropists and reporters to their Hall of Fame. They are: Dr. Florence Alexander and her husband, Dr. Stanley Alexander, Kena Lewis, Monica May Ashford, Mark McEwen and Gail Paschall-Brown.

They joined a group of 25 people named to the group’s Hall of Fame. This group, according to CFABJ President LaFontaine E. Oliver, “have all represented us well and left their indelible marks on our community and this organization.”

The honor was bestowed during the organization’s 35th anniversary celebration held at the World Showcase at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center.

After two tables of hearty appetizers and an open bar, the Hall of Fame ceremony, pictures with Disney’s Princess Tiana and a table full of scrumptious desserts, more than a hundred CFABJ members and guests walked to a special seating area around the Epcot showcase lagoon and watched the IllumiNations laser and fireworks show. 

“I had an awesome time!,” said Willie Clark, CFABJ Hall of Fame member and longtime media professional/radio personality. “The folks at Disney really know how to host a party!”

During the Hall of Fame ceremony, recipients talked about their journey and experience in their prospective fields and how the organization often played a part in their success.

Dr. Alexander, who was honored alongside his wife, basically said Black Americans own and run operations in fields such as entertainment and professional sports (like the NFL), but not in the media. He said we have to work together, to help each other in order to change that. Dr. Alexander and his wife have provided thousands of dollars in scholarships to youth attending historically Black colleges and universities through their National HBCU Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (Founded in 2005). She has served many years as President and Director at the Ebon Productions Studio where they recently produced a film about Harry T. Moore. She said the film is due to be released in January 2019.

Kena Lewis, who started her career as an on air radio announcer and morning reporter, switched gears after covering the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion. She moved into Public Relations and is currently the Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations for Orlando Health. Her efforts in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting were recognized nationally.

Monica May, well-known for her work with on the Tom Joyner Morning Show on Star 94.5 FM radio, has been in the radio and television field for 40 years. She started a non-profit organization and a series of workshops called Let’s Spill the Tea, to help improve communication between mothers and their teenage daughters. During the ceremony, May talked about leaving the Orlando market several years ago to focus on helping people, especially the homeless. May said the award that she received from the CFABJ was noticed in her Houston office and shortly after that she was offered another opportunity in radio broadcasting.

Mark McEwen, upon receiving his award, said he started his TV career with a national network (CBS in 1987). “They said can you do weather,” he said and he jumped on the opportunity even though he had not done weather. His advice to anyone interested in television: “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Keep asking. Do your research. Be prepared.” Over the years, he served in a variety of high-profile positions including anchoring “CBS This Morning,” corresponding for “48 Hours” and doing entertainment news for “The Early Show.”  In 2004, McEwen, became the anchor for the morning and noon news for WKMG in Orlando. Him just being at the event was a miracle because shortly after taking the job at the Orlando TV station, he suffered a stroke. He’s since written a book and has worked as an ambassador for the American Heart Association.

“This is such an honor, being a part of this,” McEwen said. “I thank God, especially for my mom and dad” for stressing the importance of getting a good education.

Gail Paschall-Brown said she loves what she does. With four decades of TV reporting and anchoring experience under her belt, she talked about her humble beginnings – raised by her grandparents in rural North Carolina. (She even mentioned working in tobacco fields as a young girl.) Some of her most memorable stories were the first Gulf War, the Grenada Invasion and Susan Smith who drowned her two sons in Union, South Carolina. Brown is celebrating 21 years at WESH-Channel 2 News, where she has worked in several different positions including anchor. She currently works as a general assignment reporter.

Other treats from the event: two powerful and uplifting songs by Sisaundra Lewis and a moment of silence for members who have passed in this life, including a NABJ Founder, Vince Sanders, who spent 40 years in the broadcast industry with ties to Chicago and New York City.  Sanders retired and moved back to the Orlando area in the late 1990s. (Courtesy of  the National Association of Black Journalists – NABJ, website)

Hats off to CFABJ leaders, organizers and volunteers, as well as WDW officers and cast members on hand for an amazing evening to celebrate the work of the organization over the years and to honor some well deserving media/broadcast/public relations professionals. Kudos also on your announcement of “full commitment to grow and engage with Disney’s Dreamers Academy.” (-CFABJ president LaFontaine Oliver.) 


(Random photos from the event by: Trish Martin)

Orlando Community News, 2018
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