OCOEE With only 120 votes separating candidates Rusty Johnson and Jim Sills, the election for Ocoee’s next mayor will go to a Nov. 24 runoff election.
According to unofficial results on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, Johnson received 1,186 votes (47.86%), giving him slim lead over Sills’ 1,066 votes (43.02%). Ronney Oliveira received 226 votes (9.12%).
However, with three candidates running, Johnson would have had to receive at least 50% of the votes to be declared the winner. With 2,478 votes cast, that means he needed only 53 more votes.
“It was a good race,” Johnson said. “I worked hard, and I’ll get right back at it. I have a crowd ready to get out there, and I appreciate all their work. I will address the residents again. Now, it’s just getting people to go back out and vote, and it’s right at Thanksgiving.”
Sills said he is concerned with the added costs the runoff election will require.
“I’m always trying to save the city money, and this runoff is going to cost the city more money,” he said. “We could be spending that money on sidewalks or paving streets. The voters came out, but it was a very low turnout; it wasn’t the best day in terms of weather. ... I ran a grassroots campaign. I didn’t go after the big contributors but did a lot of it myself. I walked the streets and talked to a lot of folks.”
Johnson, 69, is a longtime Ocoee city commissioner and an Ocoee resident since 1955. His community involvement also includes serving as a charter member and president of the Ocoee Jaycees; member of the Ocoee Little League executive board; executive board member of the Ocoee Bulldogs Pop Warner Program; president of the Ocoee Junior High Athletic Program; president of the West Orange High School Diamond Club; and vice chairman of the National League of Cities Small Cities Council.
Sills, 71, has been an Ocoee business owner and resident since 1976. He is a former original member and chairman of COCOPD; former member and chairman of Code Enforcement; former chairman of the Equity Study Commission; former chairman and current member of Planning and Zoning; current chair of the Community Grant Review Board; former president and current board member for the Ocoee Lions Club; member of the Winter Garden Elks Lodge; and an honorary member of the GFWC Woman’s Club of Ocoee.
District 1 Commissioner John Grogan has been serving as mayor since S. Scott Vandergrift stepped down in July. After the runoff, he will return to his commission seat.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].