Mayoral debate should set the tone for the serious election season

In politics, there is a silly season.

It’s usually when an election cycle begins too soon. The campaigns have announced their intentions to run, but are still getting geared up, crafting their messages and raising campaign funds rather than commenting on issues or making their vision for the future clear. Therefore anything said or done by either candidate becomes fodder for discussion and chaotic debate. Issues, substance, qualifications, and experience take a back seat to the latest innuendo, taken out of context quotes, soap-opera-like gossip, and non-fact-based mudslinging. But at some point, hopefully, as election day nears, the discussion turns toward important issues.

In the 2018 Apopka election cycle, the silly season hit with abandon.

Anonymous letters, questionable signage positioning, social media rants, and personality/character assassinations filled the early air supply in a cycle that began a year before election day. While the candidates essentially stayed quiet for months, the void was filled by others who rarely weighed-in with anything substantive.

But that was then and this is now.

Bryan Nelson is challenging Joe Kilsheimer to become the next Mayor of Apopka. Nelson is an Orange County Commissioner, and Kilsheimer is the incumbent Mayor of Apopka. Both men have strong name recognition in the community. Neither candidate has ever lost an election. Both campaigns are fully-functioning, well-funded, and ready to take their message to the community.

What are the important issues facing Apopka? The budget? General fund reserves? The City Center? Public safety? Growth? Employment? And which of these men is better qualified to lead this community into the future?

It’s time for this election to transition from chatter to substance… from silly season into a serious analysis and examination of these two candidates. And what better place to begin this examination than in a debate?

For the first time, Kilsheimer and Nelson will meet head-to-head at the Highland Manor on Wednesday night at 6 PM in a Mayoral debate sponsored by the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce. They will be challenged on their ideas, qualifications, and approach to governing, and they will compare and contrast their vision for Apopka with the other.

Robert Agrusa, President of the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce, is excited about hosting the event.

“With the 2018 City of Apopka elections just around the corner, the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce is very excited about the upcoming special debate between the candidates for Mayor of Apopka. Each attendee with will have an opportunity to hear directly from incumbent Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson about the important issues and priorities that are facing the City of Apopka.”

The debate will be moderated by Ryan Elijah, Anchor at Fox 35 WOFL; Paul Owens, the Opinions Editor at the Orlando Sentinel, and Todd Wilcox, a former Republican candidate for the US Senate in Florida in 2016, and a member of the Board of Directors of BusinessForce.

According to Agrusa, the questions will focus on economic, transportation, quality of life, and community issues that are most important to the residents of the City of Apopka. He also sent out a survey to the community asking for suggested questions.

“The purpose was to get public input on what they feel are the most important issues facing the City of Apopka,” Agrusa said. “While we cannot guarantee that a submitted question will be asked, there is a possibility especially if multiple people are asking the same question/topic. The bottom line is we are hoping for as many submissions as possible, to help the moderators craft the appropriate questions leading up to the debate.”


According to Agrusa, the Highland Manor was the largest venue available in Apopka that could accommodate the debate on Wednesday. And after distributing 300 free tickets, the Highland ballroom is at capacity. However, in response to the community’s continued interest in seeing the debate, Agrusa announced alternatives to attending the event live.

  • Victory Church World Outreach Center will host those who were unable to get debate tickets. The debate will be live streamed in the Church sanctuary beginning at 6:00 p.m.The Church is located at 509 S Park Ave, Apopka, FL 32703.
  • Fox35 WOFL will be live-streaming the debate on their Facebook Page.
  • 1520 WBZW will be live-streaming the debate over the radio and on their website.

Election day in Apopka is only 44 days out.


By Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice.  See the original article here.

“For everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:1