Belle Isle City Commissioner Bobby Lance, a restaurant franchise businessman with close relations to many longtime figures in Orange County Republican and county politics, has entered the race to replace Commissioner Pete Clarke for District 3 of the Orange County Commission.
Lance, 64, owns All American Restaurants in Orlando, franchising or operating a variety of restaurants including several A&W All American Food restaurants in Central Florida.
Clarke is running for Orange County mayor and is expected to resign his seat on the commission, opening up a special election in 2018. The opportunity has attracted a crowd of candidates who’ve filed for the 2020 election, expecting the seat to become available next year in south-central Orange County. Among them are Gus Martinez, Bill Moore, Eric Rollings, and Mayra Uribe. Lance filed for the 2020 election Monday morning.
Lance intends to resign from his Belle Isle Commission seat Tuesday night, but that already was in the works before he decided to run for the Orange County seat. He and his wife are moving to a new home outside his Belle Isle commission district, necessitating his resignation.
He said he’s not entirely sure why he decided to run this weekend, other than he wants to continue to serve the public, and he received encouragement from a number of friends, including Clarke, former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, Bob Harrell Jr., and former Orange County Commissioner Clarence Hoenstine.
Lance had just closed a major business deal Friday, ending years of negotiations, and his sons are just now preparing to take key leadership positions in his business, so he said he was ready for a bigger commitment.
“I believe in community. I believe in people. Everybody, I treat fairly,” Lance said. “I just have the passion to do it. I know I have the time to do it. I know I have the enthusiasm and the ability. And it’s just weird that everything worked in my life, my whole life. I know I can do the job. I know I can be fair with everybody. I have negotiating skills. I have a business mind.”