For the Last-Minute Voters: Recommendations for Today’s Election


November 6, 2018 (Orlando) — This is for the last-minute voters. But the rest of you all can read on too! 

This is one of few occasions when I’ve shared my recommendations for elections. But because this mid-term General Election is so important, especially for Florida, I am posting my recommendations for today’s historical election.

A little background for your consideration: I typically vote on the issues and attend candidates forums-debates to meet the people who are running for key positions, listening to how they answer questions and watching their demeanor.  I also attend community meetings on the 12 amendments on the ballot. (also further research and ponder them.) It so happens that where I stand on issues mostly align with the Democratic Party. 

Here’s another thing: While the current President of the United States has been campaigning since the summer for his followers running in key states, he is NOT on the ballot for this election.  Still, he continues to tweet online and talk at rallies, making negative personal attacks against candidates who’re running against his fellow Republicans.

Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams are running for governor of their perspective states. Gillum would be the first African-American elected as Florida governor if he wins and Abrams would be the first African-American woman elected as Georgia governor if she wins. I mentioned those two because they are southern states and their names are being drug through the mud, just because of who they are.

New faces around the country (especially women) are in the race for Congress. Long-time U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is a fight for his seat with Rick Scott, current Florida governor who has reached the term limited for the position. 

Lastly, on the proposed amendments to the state constitution, if there are way too many questions in one proposed amendment, I vote “No.” Those are the ones which are often confusing and contradictory.  Proponents of Amendment 4 (Voting Restoration Amendment) worked hard over the past few years to educate people about the disenfranchisement of over a million people who were convicted of crimes, did their time and fulfilled all requirements of their sentence but had to wait for years to go before a state board that determined whether their voting rights should be restored. In Florida, a convicted felon (of any crime), can not vote, serve on a jury; hold public office until his or possess a gun until his or her civil rights have been restored. Board members includes the governor and two cabinet members who are statewide elected officials. It’s ridiculous! My recommendation is to vote “Yes.” Note: The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sex offenses. 

We will never totally agree on candidates nor on amendments but we can gauge our own values and interests with what that candidate has to offer and make a choice! Vote!

Now for the recommendations!

United States Senator - Bill Nelson

Governor/Lieutenant Governor - Andrew Gillum and Chris King

Attorney General - Sean Shaw

Chief Financial Officer - Jeremy Ring

Commissioner of Agriculture - Nicole "Nikki" Fried

Special Election, Orange County Sheriff - Joe Lopez

Yes to Retain State Supreme Court Justice - Alan Lawson 

Yes to Retain Judge, District Court of Appeals - Eric Eisnaugle

Circuit Judge, 9th Judicial District, Group 41 - Dean Mosley

Board of County Commissioners, District 2 - Patricia Rumph

Special Election, School Board Member, District 7 - Melissa Mitchell Byrd

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Group 2 - Daisy Morales

Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Group 4 - Dawn Curtis


State Amendments:

Vote NO on All EXCEPT
#4 - Vote YES 
#9 - Vote YES

-Trish Martin, Publisher & Editor 
Orlando Community News 2018




Posted in Community news that can help

Off the Sidelines and Into the Game: The General Election is on Nov. 6

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

-Trish Martin, OCN Publisher & Editor,
Orlando Community News, 2018
Posted in Community news that can help | 1 Comment

Orange County Sheriff: Candidates on Issues Important to Community

Editor’s Note: It is our goal to provide good news and information to lift the community we serve Higher. We publish many articles during the election season because improving the community depends heavily on its leadership – the people who make important decisions that affect residents’ livelihood. One key leadership position in the county, Orange County Sheriff, is up for election in the Nov. 6 General Election, replacing Sheriff Jerry Demings who got elected to be our next county mayor. Demings will remain in the position until December 4, when he is sworn into office as county mayor. The new Sheriff will serve a remaining two years. The Sheriff is our top law enforcement officer. Gun violence has reached unimaginable heights and locations. Over the next two years (the reminder of Demings’ tenure), whomever gets elected to the office will have to work effectively with state and county officials, as well was school district officials to make sure children are safe in school – for example. 

We asked the three candidates vying to be the next Orange County Sheriff to complete a questionnaire to help our readers who may not have made a final decision in this race. The candidates are: Jose “Joe” Lopez, John W. Mina and Darryl B. Sheppard. Two of them responded: Mina and Lopez. Read on for their answers.

Q: Besides hiring more deputies, how would you combat the serious crimes running rampant throughout the county and protect our children in school? What are your short term goals to lower overall crime?

John W. Mina: 

I believe it will take a combination of the following initiatives: Proactive policing, continuing to engage with the community to build trust, and a collaborative effort between law enforcement and community groups and members. Both Sheriff Demings and I have financially supported the POWER movement which just started in Pine Hills in partnership with the Central Florida Urban League. This program is very similar to Operation Cease Fire and the Walking One Stop programs that have been successful throughout the country. Law Enforcement will be responsible for identifying the “at risk” individuals that have a high probability in being involved in gun violence. We will work with the community to intervene and get people they help they need to stop the cycle of committing crimes. This can be in the form of drug/alcohol prevention and treatment, mental health treatment and opportunities for employment. If the identified individuals refuse the help and continue to commit crimes, then law enforcement will arrest and work to ensure successful prosecution especially when dealing with violent or repeat offenders. 

Jose “Joe” Lopez

We will be aggressive in focusing on priority offenders with a history of violent
crime who continually prey on our community. We will work closely with the State
Attorney’s Office to ensure once they’ve been arrested, they receive appropriate
sentences to keep them behind bars.  Far too many of these offenders are
arrested and right back out there to victimize other members of our community. 
The people of Orange County deserve better.

Gun crime isn’t an issue unique to Orange County but it is a serious one that we
have to get our arms around.  I’m committed to addressing this issue head on
and everything is on the table. This includes restructuring the departments
specialty units to prioritize the reduction of gun crimes. The criminal element is
always changing and we in law enforcement have to be just as flexible in our
ability to make appropriate adjustments. The old school way of doing business is
over.  We need new innovative ways to keep members of our community safe,
anything less would be irresponsible. I’m not foolish enough to think I have all of
the answers, that’s why I will immediately begin routine conversations
and develop partnerships with anyone and everyone willing to help in the
reduction of gun crime.

We’ll run the department using best practices and creating innovative organizational
programs. Enhancing preparedness and counter terrorism.

Violent crime reduction will also require us to police not only harder, but smarter. 
We need to invest in our community with the most up-to-date crime fighting
technology to keep community members safe. (Editor’s Note: A technology list was provided but for the sake of brevity, it was not included.)

There is no one single solution to this problem of the killing of our youth, our future
leaders of our community and our nation. My wife of 28 years works in a school for the Orange County Public School system and my two children attended schools in the same system, and are now attending the University of Central Florida.  Therefore,
this is personal to me and it sickens me that our children are filled with anxiety about
their safety in a place where it’s supposed to be free of harm. As the sheriff, I can’t do
this alone and I will bring the community together to partner and collaborate with
community organizations, parents and faith-based organization to develop solutions and
get buy in. With my background as a Security Executive at Walt Disney World and as a
United States Marine protecting U.S. Embassies around the world, I understand what it
takes to protect our precious assets. 

In addition, I will do the following:
– Work closely with the School Board to ensure we
have the appropriate School Resource officers assigned at every school.
– Partner with and assist the O.C.P.S. in conducting security threat assessment for all
the schools in Orange County.
– Partner with O.C.P.S. in developing joint active shooter drills for all the teachers
and students in the same manner that fire drills are conducted. Also, to assist the
O.C.P.S. in conducting the training every semester.
– Partner with the O.C.P.S. in participation in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian
Program, which recruits and trains current or retired military veterans and law
enforcement officers. This will be a force multiplier which provides another layer
of security to the schools.

– Provide education to O.C.P.S. officials, employees and students in active shooter
awareness, the same concept as Dare and Magic.
– Work with the Federal government in securing more funding for school safety
and developing digital messaging for school safety in the same manner of drug
– Use forfeited drug dealer money to fund school safety software like Hero 911,
which is an app dedicated to protecting the students and teachers of our
community during active shooter incidents.


Q: With all that’s going on with police involved shootings nationwide, what are your plans to engage with the Orange County community better which may reduce excessive force and police involved shootings?

John W. Mina

I have a very strong and visible record of engaging with the community while I have been Chief at the Orlando Police Department. We have numerous formal and informal community engagement programs to include mentoring programs for our youth, community BBQs, Coffee with a Cop; Citizen Police Academy, Teen Police Academy; Town Hall meetings, Books and Badges, Dueling Dragons mentoring program and our Operation Positive Direction mentoring program. We also partner with community businesses to do Christmas parties and give out Christmas dinners. One of our most successful programs is Neighborhood Watch. We have over 1000 neighborhood watch block captains and this has helped us drive down crime, specifically residential burglaries in Orlando. I plan on bringing all of these community engagement efforts to the Sheriff’s Office to build upon the great work that Sheriff Demings has already done. Additionally, because of training, new policies, and accountability of our offices, I have been able to reduce the number of use of force cases and officer involved shooting cases in Orlando. I plan on adopting the same initiatives at the Sheriff’s Office to reduce excessive force and police involved shootings. 

Jose “Joe” Lopez

I will be a sheriff that promotes transparency to the community and transparency
to the media. We must be transparent and not misleading to the media. It’s never
acceptable to deviate from the training law enforcement receive in the academy and
allow our emotions to drive our decisions. The community expects more from the men
and women charged with serving them. We also can’t let the actions of a couple of
officers paint the whole profession. The overwhelming majority of members of law
enforcement do the right thing and serve honorably.
While I was Chief of Investigations at the Florida Highway Patrol, I also led the
Internal Affairs unit.

I will ensure the following: 

  • All excessive use of force cases will be investigated immediately and concluded between 30-90 days, not 11 months.
  • We will work with the State Attorney’s Office to determine if probable cause exists to file charges against those deputies that have committed crimes.
  • Inform the media and public the findings of the investigation upon conclusion, to ensure transparency.


Q: This is a key position for Central Florida, with the number of visitors we have and influx of people moving here daily and crime being committed by young people – seems as though they are getting younger and younger. Why should voters entrust you to keep them and their families safe?

John W. Mina:

Because I am the only candidate who has a strong record of working in this community to keep it safe. I have been a resident of Orange County for 28 years and have been serving as a law enforcement officer in this community for that long. I am Chief of Police of the largest police department in Central Florida and the 4th largest in all of Florida. Since I have been chief, crime has been reduced and juvenile civil citations which has caused less juveniles to be put in handcuffs and arrested. Simply put, I have proven myself in this community and I am trusted by our residents to keep them safe.

Jose “Joe” Lopez

It is my passion to continue willingness to serve the community as I have been for 40+ years. The reasons for seeking election to be the Sheriff of Orange County is for
three reasons: a better, safer, place for all of us to live, work, play and raise families. I
believe that with my proven effective leadership that the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office will focus upon accomplishing identified goals to reduce youth crimes:

  • Engage the youth at schools and partnering with the private sector, faith-based
    community to mentor and develop after school programs.
  • Leverage the Police Athletic League program and have a robust recruitment process to encourage the youth community to participate.
  • Intelligence: Develop better relationships and trust with the community, so the community can be the eyes and ears and report such crime committed by youth.
  • Resources:  Create a robust Anti-Gang unit that consists of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, to include adjoining counties.
  • Targeting enforcement: Work with the State Attorney’s Office to ensure that the proper maximum sentence is applied so that criminals do not return to the streets and prey on our community.


For more information on the Nov. 6 General Election or early voting, visit the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website: You can also visit the candidate’s websites for more information.  Mina: and Lopez:




© Orlando Community News, 2018









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More Than 80K Inactive Voters in Orange County Alone

October 6, 2018 (Orlando) – With everything going on in the United States (especially today in the Senate), citizens should value their vote and exercise their right to vote in every election. The people who get out and vote in large numbers control, for the most part, who runs the country and what crucial decisions are made that affect everyone living here.

We, the people, have to do better.

Here in Orange County, after the Primary Election in August, it was discovered that thousands of absentee (mailout) ballots were not counted because people either didn’t properly sign those ballots or the signatures that was on the ballots didn’t match the signatures which were on file at the elections office.

As of the end of September, there were 88,172 inactive voters in the county! That’s significant and if you have lived in Florida for a while, you know that even presidential elections have been decided with even fewer than 80,000 votes (popular votes). Every vote matters.

Voters become inactive when mail sent to them from the elections office can no longer be delivered. It’s only a matter of an incorrect address on file, election  officials say.

Inactive voters will be able to vote early or on (General) Election Day, Nov. 6, but they will have to update their address first and then vote at their assigned polling place. Bottom line: It will cost you extra time, gas and unwanted stress because you may have to drive to multiple sites in order to vote.

You can also check your status online or by calling the elections office:,  (407) 836-2070

Great idea: check your status before the registration deadline which is this Tuesday, October 9.

The elections office will have special extended hours today (Saturday, Oct. 6) from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on this Tuesday from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. to help with registration. The elections office is located at:  119 W. Kaley St., Orlando.




Orlando Community News, 2018


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Election Connection: Polls Open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. for August 28 Primary Election

BD6B95E0-1E76-4575-B083-DC01CA93AA84Orange County – Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, August 28, to select the people they want to win key public offices, including local ones such as county mayor and commissioners, as well as county and circuit court judges. They will also pick favorites within their political parties for state and national offices. (The Florida governor’s race on the Democratic side is as hot as our Summer days and is projected to be a nail biter – with very close results.)

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and judging from the record number of early voting ballots and absentee (vote-by-mail) ballots that have already been received by the elections office, registered voters who haven’t exercised their right to vote may want to arrive at their polling place early. Two things we know: it will be too hot to stand outside for long and there’s a good chance that it will rain in the afternoon.

Voters who still have their absentee (vote-by-mail) ballot can drop it off to the Supervisor of Elections Office, 119 W. Kaley St., Orlando, Florida 32806, before 7 p.m. or exchange it for a ballot at their proper polling place on Election Day.

Reminder: everyone who’s registered will get a ballot. It doesn’t matter if you did not select a political party or if you selected Independent. There are quite a few non-partisan races and a question about funding for schools on all ballots.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the elections office at (407) 836-2070. A lot of helpful information can be found on the website:

Orlando Community News, 2018

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Election Connection: Early Voting Aug. 17-26


BD6B95E0-1E76-4575-B083-DC01CA93AA84August 17, 2018 (Orlando) – Florida’s Primary Election is Tuesday, August 28, but Orange County voters can take advantage of voting early to avoid long lines and a chance of bad weather on Election Day, starting today, August 17 through next Sunday, August 26 at select Early Voting Centers throughout the county.  (The centers are typically libraries and commmunity centers.)

There are 15 Early Voting Centers throughout the county. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here’s a list of locations and their addresses. Source: Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website: or (407) 836-2070.


Keep in mind: If you did not select a political party (Democrat or Republican) you still can go vote: There are some non-partisan (or non-party) races such as judges on which you can vote. There’s also a question about increase in the tax millage for the school district.

Orlando Community News, 2018












Posted in Community news that can help

Polls Open, Absentee Ballots Mailed – It’s Time To Vote

August 9, 2018 (Orlando) – It’s Time to Vote! Yes, this is Primary Election season and voters around the country have the chance to select the people they want to represent them, especially locally and statewide. 

Florida voters will have their turn at the polls on Tuesday, August 28. Common voting hours: 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Now, you can always vote early either by absentee ballot (vote by mail ballot) or at Early Voting Centers. In Orange County, Early Voting Centers will be open August 17 – August 26 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.                   

Florida is a closed primary state, meaning voters will choose from candidates within their parties or if they have not selected a primary, they will vote on candidates in universal primary races and/or non-partisan races (such as Judges and County Mayor) , along with local initiatives. (An universal primary race occurs when candidates in a race have the same political party.) 

Can’t express it enough how important it is to vote in every election. Many people tend to skip Primary Elections – either they forget because it’s in August or they just don’t think it matters. But it does. This is actually prime time! Who we select to represent us is critical, i.e. Mayors appoint Police Chiefs and those Police Chiefs are responsible for every law enforcement officer on their squad. Also, if you see an issue in your neighborhood, you don’t call the President of the United States or your U.S. Senator or Representative. No, you call your city or county representatives for help. 

However you like to vote – by absentee ballot, at an early voting location or at your polling place – just remember to do it. Your vote can make a difference. Good idea to remind your family and friends to vote also!

Voting early may be best because of last-minute mishaps or bad weather on Election Day.  (Florida residents, you know the drill: It’s summertime.)

There have already been reports of several precincts in cities in Michigan running out of ballots on Election Day. Given the political climate throughout our country, the thought of running out of ballots seems unbelievable. Clerks were making copies of ballots and/or having people wait for ballots from nearby precincts. There’s enough blame to spread around there but if anything like that happens to you on Election Day, do not leave the line until you have voted. You have the right to vote.

Call your county elections office if you have any questions or concerns. Orange County: (407) 836-2070. For list of Early Voting Centers go to the elections office website: 

© Orlando Community News, 2018


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Voter Registration Deadline Approaching for Elections

Registration underway for Primary Election in August


July 13, 2018 (Orlando) – Voters have a couple more weeks to register if they want to vote in the August 28 Primary Election.

The deadline is Monday, July 30. That’s the same deadline if you want to change your address or name, your party affiliation, etc. We live in a closed primary state. So if you want to vote in the upcoming primary elections, you must select a party before the deadline – for example, Democrat or Republican.  You will be given a ballot with a list of candidates in your party who are vying for various public offices.  

In order to register, you must be a United States citizen, must be 18 years old, must be a Florida resident and must have your civil rights restored (if ever convicted of a felony or declared mentally incompetent by the courts.) 

In Orange County, we have some key races for the primary election in August: Orange County Mayor, Orange County Sheriff (Special Election to fill the remainder of the term – two years that will be left vacant by Sheriff Jerry Demings who is running for county mayor), several county commission seats and School Board chairperson seat, as well as county judges.

Throughout the state, voters will select candidates within their party for representatives in Congress, Florida governor (and lieutenant governor), which includes six candidates on the Democratic side alone. So yes, it’s a hotly contested race.

The General Election for candidates winning their primaries, other legislative and congressional candidates as well as for special referendums and amendments will be held on November 6.

If you have any questions about registering and/or making changes to your registration so that you can vote in August, contact your county Supervisor of Elections office.


Source: Orange County Supervisor Of Elections: (407) 836-2070. Website: or


© Orlando Community News, 2018


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Court is in Session: Mentoring Group Exposes Youth to Federal Court System

Exposure has got to be a key component to successfully mentoring young people. There’s nothing like showing them key life skills, various careers and well-known places or events – not just talking about those things. Positive exposure could spark an interest in them that could positively shape the trajectory of their lives. 

Courts in Session (2)

One of the local organizations which does this well is The Got Skills mentoring program and its organizers are planning another “exposure opportunity’ on Friday, July 13.  They call it “Courts In Session” and from 12 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., young men and a group of mentors will visit the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Orlando, where they will get a chance to meet a federal judge, U.S. Marshal and federal probation officers, as well as attend a federal trial and jail cell. Lunch will be provided.

It’s for teenage males from 12-18 years old.

Parents who are interested in getting their sons, nephews, or other young male family members involved should call (407) 984-8098 or send and email to:

The program teaches life skills to teenage men. Some of their recent activities have included training on automobile maintenance, fishing, dressing for success; mental health and home remodeling/basic repair. 

For more information about the program go to




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Number Seven!

7! This week, we reached the seventh year of launching Orlando Community News! To God be the glory for the vision and future of this online publication and organization!  To borrow a friend’s take on this year: The seventh anniversary of your publication is symbolic. Seven represents spiritual perfection. It is stamped on every work of God. (-Gail Green.)  This resonated in my spirit because the number seven came up frequently for me last year. God is still revealing things to me about the publication and I am listening. So as I pray for you, pray for me and Orlando Community News.  Another level is here. Amen. By God’s Spirit, even more lives will changed for the better and the community will continue its upward rise. 

I appreciate you all for visiting this community website, following it and sharing it with others! Special thanks to those of you who have interviewed with me for articles and/or submitted guest editorials. Jesus said for where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20). Truly this vision is from God, we are gathered together in his name to do the work and he is here! I appreciate you all for being a part of the vision!

Stay connected because there is tons of good news happening in our backyard and I’m determined to share it. – Orlando Community News: Where Good News & Information Lives! -Publisher and Editor Trish Martin. Email:






Posted in Community news that can help