Susan Makowski, long-time aide to Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, has filed to run for her seat in the 2018 election to represent southeast Orange County.

Makowski, 52, filed Wednesday to run in Orange County Commission District 4. She has been Thompson’s top staffer representing that district since the commissioner took office in 2011, and also worked on Thompson’s campaign for nearly two years prior. Like Thompson, she is a Republican.

While seeking to continue much of Thompson’s agenda, Makowski said her primary focus is more on continuing her own service to residents in District 4.

“I am running because I believe in making a difference. Through this office, as a local official, I can see how you do make a difference and how you do help the community. That’s why I’m running. I want to continue to make a difference. I’ve been on the front line with her since Day 1,” Makowski said.

As an example, she suggested the creation of the Lynx bus route 418, which Thompson (and Makowski) fought to establish after the SunRail commuter train service began, with its last stop at Sand Lake Road. The bus route connects that train station with Florida Mall, the Meadow Woods community and the Lake Nona Medical City development, including the new hospitals. The route immediately connected veterans with the brand new Veterans Administration Hospital at Lake Nona. But it took a monumental effort to get the route created and funded, Makowski said.

She enters a crowded field seeking to succeed Thompson in what officially is a non-partisan election for a non-partisan office. Nonetheless, the parties will be making big pushes, as control of the Orange County Commission may be at stake in the 2018 election.

Three Democrats, Nicolette Springer, Kevin Ballinger and Maribel Gomez Cordero, and Republican Gina Perez-Calhoun already are in the race.

In a district in which Democrats now have a 16-point advantage in voter registration, Makowski expects to break through.

“I have relationships that are necessary for this job. I have the experience. I have the passion. I have respect for the office. And I know the role of the office,” she said. “And I know what you can achieve in it, and I know how to do it.”

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