All Votes Matter

HFC Votes! Learn how to register, and how to vote | Henry Ford College

Have you ever driven around and thought to yourself, “How come they don’t have one of these near where I live?” or “They should have more of these in our area”? Believe it or not, you have more of an impact on these decisions than you think. All you have to do is vote.

As we all know, once you turn 18, you have the capability to vote in the many elections that happen across your city, state, and country. In these elections, you are able to cast your vote on who you believe will best represent you in the decisions they make. A lot of people, particularly young, believe that voting is not important. The reality is that this is not true at all. Young people will make up more than one-third of eligible voters, which means we hold a lot of power if we exercise our right to go to the polls. The results of elections are not always instantaneous, instead they have more of an impact on your life in the future.

Every vote matters. According to https://borgenproject.org/voting-is-important/, “there have been several cases in U.S. history where this has been seen. A New Hampshire Senate race was decided by two votes out of 223,363 in 1974. A Massachusetts gubernatorial election was decided by two votes out of 102,066 in 1839. And the Alaskan congressional race was decided by a single vote out of 10,035 cast in 2008.”

You can get a jump start on your voting journey real soon by being part of an election in your own city. On March 8th, the city of Apopka is holding elections for three positions: mayor, city commissioner seat 2, and city commissioner seat 4. By casting an informed vote, you can make a change in the city you live in that would benefit you and others around you.

Here are some helpful links to guide you through the voting process:

Voter Registration Lookup: https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/en/CheckVoterStatus/Index

Find Your Polling Place: https://www.ocfelections.com/find-my-polling-place

2022 Florida Legislature: https://legiscan.com/FL

City of Apopka Elections Information Site: https://www.apopka.net/185/City-Elections

The Blue and White reached out to all the candidates running for positions in our city, and we received responses from four candidates. Those not included are Mayor Brian Nelson and City Commissioner seat 4 candidate Eric Mock.

Mayoral candidate Kyle Becker

What are your plans for Apopka?

Think about your daily routine, where do you go out to eat with your family, where do you shop, where do you go for entertainment, if the answer is somewhere outside of Apopka that is what I want to change.  Our city is rapidly growing, however, mostly in the residential space.  My primary platform issue is an investment in Economic Development, whereas the city will lead efforts to diversify growth to ensure a balance of retail and commercial comes to Apopka as well.  By proactively creating a vibrant local economy, we will create opportunities for all Apopka residents and of all backgrounds, whether it be jobs or spending more quality time with our families close to home.

 

How do your plans differ from your opponent’s?

My opponent does not want to invest in a city led Economic Development program and feels he can do the job by himself.  However, cities like Winter Garden, Sanford, Mount Dora, Altamonte Springs and others make this investment and have proven success delivering the quality-of-life amenities their residents love and expect.  I would rather go with proven results vs. unproven outcomes when it comes to living up to our potential in Apopka.

 

Are there any things that stand out in the city that you think need change?

Before we can talk about the benefits of Economic Development, we need to have a city that looks the part, I will take measures to ensure our city looks beautiful with proper upkeep of our roadways and landscaping.  I will also place emphasis on public art to create a sense of visual pride within our city.  Additionally, I will improve our open spaces so our residents young and old have a place to unplug and enjoy the outdoors, adding picnic and pavilion amenities, adding sports fields, and complementing our traditional sports offering with things like skate parks and disc golf.

 

What made you decide to run?

I’ve always subscribed to the mindset that if you see things are not being done right or up to the standards you may have, then you must step up and lead.  With my executive leadership experience, I will serve the city well as our strong mayor.

 

What is your history in politics?

I’ve been the Commissioner of Seat 4 for the Apopka City Council since 2016, and I am currently serving my second term in this role.

 

What do you do outside of politics?

Outside of my current role as Commissioner, I have worked over 20 years in the corporate world in Banking and the Banking Technology industry.  I help organizations invest and deploy capital to develop innovative banking technologies, as well as help organizations run and grow their business through data insights and analytics.

 

How can voters learn more about you?

Voters can visit my website at kyleforapopka.com or view my Facebook page at @BeckerforMayor, for direct questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected].

City Commissioner Seat 4 candidate Nick Nesta

What are your plans for Apopka? 

I have created a campaign based on five Pledge Pillars. These Pillars outline my plans for Apopka and  how I will lead once elected. They are as follows: 

– 1) Open Communication 

o I will work to achieve a culture of inclusiveness and maintain open communication with the  community.  

– 2) Fiscally Responsible Spending 

o I will be a diligent steward of the funds entrusted to me.  

– 3) Citizen Advocacy 

o I will work to protect citizens’ investments and property values. 

– 4) Sustainable Growth 

o I will work to ensure citizens and developers reach mutually agreed upon results. 

– 5) Community Partnerships 

o I will build strong relationships and represent the city with integrity, loyalty, and conviction. 

How do your plans differ from your opponent’s? 

Due to the lack of information coming from my opponent’s campaign, I am unsure how our plans differ.  

I am committed to transparency and will work nonstop to ensure I follow my Pillars. I have created a Citizen Bill of Rights, see NickforApopka.com for the full document, that details my commitments to the community. This provides opportunities for citizens to reference my Citizen Bill of Rights should I not be adhering to my commitments. Ensuring that I follow my promises will be easier than ever for citizens. 

Are there any things that stand out in the city that you think need change? 

The City of Apopka has grown in leaps and bounds since I first moved here in 1994. Throughout that time, I have learned what makes Apopka great as well as some of its pain points. One major change I feel needs to be implemented is encouraging more citizen participation throughout the development  process.  

We have been experiencing an amazing amount of development within the City limits but many citizens find out about the new development once it’s already being built. At that point, many are displeased and feel they did not have the opportunity to share their displeasure over the project. We need to  create an open, transparent forum for citizens to participate in the planning process of a project. This will provide citizens with the opportunity to share how they feel, possibly negotiate with the developer if more greenspace / buffers / walls are preferred and have a true stake in how the City progresses.  

What made you decide to run? 

When Commissioner Kyle Becker announced his intention to run for City of Apopka Mayor, it became aware that his seat, number 4, will need to be filled through special election to finish out the remainder of the term. As someone who has been active in many of the city events, I felt the calling to fill that void that would be created once Comm. Becker vacated his seat.  

Throughout my attendance to city events, advocating for proper disposition of City owned property and  ensuring all of Apopka’s citizens equally benefit from the Council’s decisions, I have been able to interact  with many residents coming from all backgrounds. By being open to communicating with everyone,  regardless of where they live, I have been able continually understand the changing needs of the citizens of Apopka. By understanding their pain points I realized many needs are not being addressed so I decided I was the right person to fill the seat to properly represent the community.  

What is your history in politics? 

I do not have any history in politics directly other than advocating on the citizen level for transparency from our local government, equal benefit from Council decisions and promoting development that  makes sense.  

What do you do outside of politics? 

I am a small business owner of a boutique real estate brokerage, Nesta Real Estate Consultants. We focus on residential and commercial real estate brokerage throughout Central Florida. I have an undergraduate degree in Real Estate as well as a master’s degree in Real Estate.  

How can voters learn more about you? 

To learn more about Nick Nesta, please look at NickforApopka.com or Facebook at Nick Nesta for Apopka City Commissioner Seat 4. 

City Commissioner Seat 2 candidate Wes Dumy

What are your plans for Apopka? 

Quite simply, build Apopka to be the best place to live in central Florida. I consider best place to live as a safe community, with good governance, low tax rates, a good level of public  services, businesses, work opportunities, entertainment and dining, and a family-friendly  community where kids can ride bikes on the streets in communities that are designed around  the natural, semi-tropical landscape that is native to central Florida.  

While that statement is ambitious, as a city Commissioner, I will always make decisions with  that goal in mind.  

It’s also worth noting that as a commissioner I’m 1 of 5 votes on city business, so to achieve this  vision will require salesmanship of the vision, as well as planning to achieve it.  

How do your plans differ from your opponent’s? 

I have a ‘business forward’ approach that I’m bringing to Apopka, as it’s been 22 years since  I’ve graduated college and I’ve worked in the private sector that entire time, building up a small  business practice assisting Fortune 500 companies with their data analytics and strategy. My opponent spent her career in government services, which is a completely different way of  thinking and doing things. Private enterprise requires results, where public service requires  adherence to a process. Both have their plusses and minuses for sure, but there’s no better  prerequisite for a city Commissioner job than to understand the concept that private enterprise  generates wealth, while government collects it. Thus, government must always be seen as  good stewards of taxpayer money.  

My opponent is a good person but her track record serving Apopka has had some missed  opportunities, most recently on the Station-street redevelopment project.  

Are there any things that stand out in the city that you think need change? 

We are at the beginning of a large growth spurt. The 429 highway, when completed later this  year, will be the main bypass for people coming from I-95 going through to Tampa and other  areas in southwest Florida. We are going to experience a surge in thru-traffic, which will create  new opportunities for businesses along that corridor. If just a portion of those people stop in  Apopka for a meal, to shop, or visit, it will be a massive revenue generator.  We need a commissioner with a vision for what is, and what can be. I am that person. 

What made you decide to run? 

Two reasons: 

  1. The current races have a potential of 3 of the 4 city commissioners being from the Rock  Springs Ridge development. This is a 35-square mile city and I’m not convinced that is  best for bringing unique viewpoints. I live in far southeast Apopka (Bear Lake  Highlands) and we currently have no representation from this area.  
  2. When looking at the track record of my opponent, the city cannot afford to have more  missed opportunities such as the station street project (where a developer was sent  away prior to negotiating for an RFP, due to an accused improper, but perfectly legal,  campaign donation. This developer was the only person to respond to the RFP, and  now the city is set back years for this process, and the developer has mentioned he has  no intention of resubmitting).

Everything that is decided inside the city for the next couple of years, with the large growth spurt  we are experiencing – which is just beginning, will affect us for the rest of our lives. We have  one shot to get this right, and my experience and judgement will help deliver a positive result.  

What is your history in politics? 

Simply as a voter. The good news is I come into this opportunity without any baggage of “done  elsewhere”, but also with fresh perspectives from a business-forward approach.  

What do you do outside of politics? 

I own a small business delivering software data analytics analysis, programming, and training.  The best part of it is that I get to analyze data and optimize outcomes – just the same thing that  a Commissioner should be doing – it’s almost a game theory where we look at “If I do A, the  result is B”. I recommend any high schoolers who are interested in technology look into data  analytics/science and virtual reality/augmented reality, as that market is getting set to explode in  the future with good income potential.  

I am also an aspiring brewer of fine-ales (beer) at my local Florida Bear Brewing Company  concept, and I own a 15-barrel brewhouse and the associated fermenters and necessary  equipment needed to open and operate a production brewery. My opening plan was stunted by  the COVID pandemic, but my spirit to serve was not. You all are still too young to understand  the brewery business, but your time will come. My advice – Don’t rush it.  

How can voters learn more about you? 

For all my technology work, I prefer the old-school communication methods.  

I have a website set up, with positions, a contact page, and a weekly newsletter. I encourage  you to sign up at www.apopkawes.com 

For those who prefer direct contact, my email is [email protected], and my phone  number is 407-247-1905.

City Commissioner Seat 2 incumbent Diane Velazquez

What are your plans for Apopka?

As Apopka continues to grow in population, expands in housing, and at the same time attracts new businesses and visitors, we as elected officials and members of the city council must provide a safe, clean, and welcoming city for those that come into contact with our community. As a sitting commissioner, my plan is to help the mayor, the other city commissioners, the city staff, businesses and the community, in general, make Apopka a place where people are proud to live, raise a family, work and play.

How do your plans differ from your opponents?

I’m certain my opponent is interested in the well being of Apopka, but I have the experience to tackle many obstacles that the city administration may confront as our city continues to grow and prosper. A person that has experience in problem solving has the advantage of evaluation situations using knowledge of government procedures in a manner that utilizes all the factors that can be explored. I’ve been an elected city commissioner for over 5 years, an appointed county commissioner in planning and zoning for two years, so I think this enhances my abilities to make correct and sound decisions that will benefit our city and our community.

Are there any things that stand out in the city that you think need change?

I think that adding city staff is very important since the city is always gaining residents, business people and visitors. Police and firefighters are needed for the safety and protection of life and property. These are essential services that should remain strong in personnel. Keeping the city fully staffed is one of my priorities. Additionally, a strong budget always helps.

What made you decide to run?

Seventeen years ago, I made Apopka my home. Not knowing any person, I decided to join several organizations that would help me get to know our city and the people that reside here. I began volunteering in community activities, this lead me to attend city council meetings and observe how the mayor and the city commissioners interacted in solving and addressing city issues. The more city council meetings I attended the more interested I became. In 2013, I decided to run for a council seat and won the election in March 2014.

What is your history in politics?

Prior to moving to Apopka, my political experience was limited to voting and keeping abreast of local and world affairs. My community service here in Apopka got me started and I developed an interest on how I would be able to participate in local politics. Caring about my community was and still is a motivation factor.

What do you do outside of politics?

I’m the grandmother of two beautiful grand kids, a mother of two grown men, and the wife of a Vietnam veteran whom I met almost 45 years ago. I’m a retired New York City police detective and of course, I keep busy with the different community organizations I belong too and also as a sitting city council commissioner.

How can voters learn more about you?

I encourage those interested in learning more about me to visit FaceBook, both personal and the Apopka web site. Also, visit www.dianeforapopka.com and I’m available at [email protected]