Orange County voters chose Jerry Demings as their next mayor. Outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs was elected to Orange County School Board chair.
The names are familiar, but the titles have changed.
Longtime leaders Jerry Demings and Teresa Jacobs will continue to represent constituents in Orange County — but in different capacities.
Demings, former Orange County sheriff, will succeed Jacobs as the next Orange County mayor. Jacobs will remain in the spotlight, though, as chair of the Orange County School Board.
Both candidates won their respective races handily. Demings won 113,261 votes (61.6%%), easily besting challengers Pete Clarke, who received 40,468 votes (22.01%), and Rob Panepinto, who earned 30,148 votes (16.4%).
Similarly, Jacobs emerged from a field a four with 94,546 votes (52.25%). That total was enough to boost her over challengers Matthew Fitzpatrick, 30,190 votes (16.69%); Robert Prater, 9,651 votes (5.33%); and Nancy Robbinson, 46,546 votes (25.73%).
From his watch party Aug. 28 at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center’s Heroes Ballroom, Demings said he was ready to begin work as Orange County’s next mayor.
“I promise to put the people first over politics as we continue to make Orange County a great place to live, work and do business,” he said. “I am excited about our future, and I’m ready to get to work as your mayor.
“To the voters, thank you,” Demings said. “I owe you a debt of gratitude for entrusting me to be the fifth elected mayor of Orange County. My victory tonight speaks volumes of just how far this community has come. The son of a maid and a taxicab driver has been elected. I hope that this inspires every boy or a girl, because if you work hard and you play by the rules, you can become whoever you dream to be.”
In her victory speech Aug. 28 at MetroWest Golf Club, Jacobs vowed this was just the beginning of her influence in local public education and noted school safety and teachers as priorities.
“Those teachers are so incredibly important, and we as a society have forgotten that,” she said. “We’ve forgotten to pay them for the important job that they do, and we’ve got to do better. It ought to be (that you) proudly serve as a teacher. And you ought to be able to make a living and support your family doing that.
“So, that’s a job bigger than just Orange County Public Schools,” Jacobs said. “That’s a statewide challenge, but we’ve all got … to tackle that challenge together. The one thing I know about Orange County — unlike any place else I’ve ever lived — when we put our minds to something, when we put aside our differences and we agree on the direction we’re going, we are unstoppable.”
In addition to these two races, Orange County voters delivered a landslide victory for Orange County Public Schools as they passed the ad-valorem millage with 152,881 votes (83.55%).
COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 2
With no one in the field of four earning more than 50% of the vote, the race for Orange County Commission District 2 will continue to the Nov. 6 General Election.
Voters will choose between candidates Patricia Rumph, 9,698 votes (30.09%) and Christine Moore, 9,181 votes (28.48%), the top two candidates in the primary.
Candidate Fred Brummer received 7,599 votes (23.57%), and Mark Byrd received 5,757 votes (17.86%).
SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 7
Similarly, the race for Orange County School Board District 7 will continue to November, when voters will select between the top two candidates, Melissa Mitchell Byrd, 12,360 votes (45.34%) and Eric Schwalbach, 6,259 votes (22.96%).
Primary candidate Chan-Denise Budhoo received 6,140 votes (22.52%), while Jeffrey Richardson received 2,501 votes (9.17%).