Republican Orange County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette is entering the race for Orange County mayor.
Sublette, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, filed his paperwork Friday with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, becoming the first major Republican to enter the race to replace outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs, also a Republican, in what is officially a nonpartisan position.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings of Windermere is the leading Democrat in the race.
“I am running for Orange County mayor to continue the successful approach Mayor Jacobs has brought to the county, while offering my own vision for our future,” Sublette stated in a news release. “While our economy is strong and unemployment is down, I intend to focus on providing better job opportunities for our citizens – especially our working poor and building a stronger, functional public transportation network.”
Sublette indicated he will hold a formal announcement next Thursday.
Sublette, an Orlando attorney, served eight years in the Florida House and would be finishing his second four-year term as chairman of the Orange County School Board next year.
“I have spent my adult life fighting for children, for those without a voice, and for consumers,” Sublette continued. “Just as I have spent the past eight years leading the fight for public education and building a world class public school system, as Mayor I will lead the fight to tackle multi-generational poverty, preserve our county’s natural resources, prevent widespread damage to our infrastructure from future hurricanes – including burying power lines, all while providing sound management and fiscal responsibility over taxpayer’s dollars.”
There almost certainly will be other major Republicans entering the race. Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke has essentially announced his candidacy within the Orange County Republican Party and said publicly he’s 99 percent certain he’ll run, but he has not yet filed. Orlando businessman Rob Panepinto, board president of Orlando Inc. [the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce,] also has been widely discussed as a probably Orange County mayoral candidate.
Already, a non-partisan primary election is assured. In addition to Demings and Sublette, two other candidates, Robert Melanson and Jose Colom , both of Orlando, have filed. If no one candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote on Aug. 28, 2018, the top two would head for a general election on Nov. 6, 2018.
Sublette and his wife Suzie live in Orlando and have three children.
He once ran for Orlando mayor and lost in a 2003 primary, in a race still-Mayor Buddy Dyer won. Dyer then appointed him to serve on a city education council, as did then-Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty in 2004. That eventually led to a reorganization of the Orange County School Board, creating a county-wide schools chairman. Sublette ran for and won that post in 2010, and he was re-elected in 2014.