The Orange County Commission races went through the dust of the primary elections and came out with two races, in District 1 and District 5, that will continue on to November, as well as District 3, where incumbent Pete Clarke swept to victory with almost 70 percent of the vote.
In County Commission District 1, the termed out Scott Boyd left the seat vacant and up for grabs. From there, a host of contenders stepped up and threw their hats in the ring: Betsy VanderLey, Bobby Olszewski, Nuren Haider and Usha Jain.
VanderLey, a businesswoman endorsed by both Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Boyd himself, got the most votes with 45 percent in the primary. But as she didn’t break 50 percent, the election will continue on to November.
VanderLey raised $12,500 from Aug. 13 to Aug. 25, bringing her total to $194,000 raised overall, and she spent $14,000 in that two week period. Overall, she’s spent $178,000 in total.
““I am thrilled to have brought in almost 46 percent in a four-way race,” she said of Tuesday night’s results. “Over the past year, we have assembled a stellar group of volunteers, all of whom I am extremely proud. We are looking forward to continuing the work we have done on the road to victory in November.”
Olszewski is her closest competitor, having racked up endorsements from a smorgasbord of Windermere and Winter Garden officials he’s worked with in the past as a commissioner in Winter Garden. He won 35 percent of the vote.
He’s raised $11,000 in the last two weeks and that brought his total up to $94,000. In addition, he spent $41,000 in the same time period, making his total expenditures around $87,000.
On the election results, Olszewski said he looked forward to November.
“It was a spirited primary and I look forward to continuing to share my vision for Orange County,” he wrote. “I am looking forward to the general election.”
The District 3 race between incumbent Pete Clarke and his opponents Bill Moore and Robert Melanson came to an end as Clarke’s 70 percent of the vote dwarfed Moore’s 22 percent and Melanson’s eight percent.
Clarke, in the last two weeks, reported $4,975 in contributions, bringing his total to $108,000 overall. He spent $23,000 this last filing period between Aug. 13 and Aug. 25, bringing his total to $91,000 overall.
Moore reported $250 in contributions between Aug. 13 and Aug. 25, adding up to his total of $20,000. He spent $88 in that period, which means his total expenditures overall added up to $19,000.
Melanson raised and spent nothing in the period between Aug. 13 and 25. His total was roughly $4,300 in both contributions and expenditures.
In District 5, Edwards won with 42 percent of the vote, but now he’ll face off with his next-closest opponent, environmental activist Emily Bonilla, in the general election. Bonilla took home 27 percent of the vote.
The race was an explosive one with the incumbent Edwards facing adversity over the concerns from residents in the district over the continuing encroachment of developers on what they say should be rural, preserved wildlife.
The Lake Pickett projects, passed through by the Orange County Commission in the middle of the summer and campaigning season, were the target of particular venom from the public – residents said the projects, which consist of thousands of new homes that will be build across the Econlockhatchee River, will destroy the environment and add to the already-congested traffic of the area.
Edwards’ opponents, Bonilla, Timothy McKinney and Gregory Eisenberg, each tried to position themselves as alternatives to him – each promising not to be beholden to corporate interests, to look after the environment and to represent the people of their district.
Edwards raised over $6,000 from Aug. 13 to 25 and his total came out to $213,000 so far. He spent $2,800 during that time period. His total expenditures come out to $158,000 overall.
Bonilla raised $2,285 between Aug. 13 and 25 and in total, has raised $15,000. She spent $2,400 in that time period and in total, has spent nearly $14,000.
Of the news of her oncoming run-off campaign to November, Bonilla was ecstatic.
“Together, WE will fight for an infrastructure that is prepared for the next century,” she wrote on Facebook. “Together, WE will seek smart use of tax dollars to promote District 5 businesses and ecotourism. Together, WE will seek to increase the affordability of housing for young families, retired individuals and millennials. Together, WE will work with District 5 citizens and organizations to find a solution to the homelessness that is present in District 5. All citizens of District 5 will regain its voice and together WE WILL MOVE FORWARD.”