By Tony Judnich
Obtaining a $100,000 grant to help pay for a land-use planning study for Ocoee and Winter Garden was one of the accomplishments state Rep. Randolph Bracy III (D-Ocoee) shared at his July 9 town hall meeting.
Among other issues, the study will examine ways of attracting businesses and other types of growth to the mostly undeveloped area around state roads 438 and 429, the latter of which serves as a dividing line between the two municipalities.
“My goal is to bring businesses to the city,” Bracy told an audience of more than a dozen people at Ocoee City Hall. “I think we’re well on our way to changing the city of Ocoee.”
Bracy, a 37-year-old married father of two and former basketball star at Dr. Phillips High School, was elected in 2012 to the Florida House of Representatives. He represents District 45, which, in addition to Ocoee and Winter Garden, includes Apopka.
Ocoee City Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen, who recently helped arrange for Bracy to move his district office from Orlando to Ocoee City Hall, thanked him for his efforts.
“Economic development is very important to us,” Wilsen said.
Bracy said some of his current tasks include applying for money to improve roads in Ocoee and to build a new training center for the Ocoee Police Department.
Ocoee City Commissioner Joel Keller also thanked Bracy for his work on the city’s behalf and then asked him if he could help speed up plans to widen Silver Star Road.
“It’s usually a slugfest [among legislators] to get appropriations for your district, but I think we can get it,” Bracy said.
Also during his town hall talk, Bracy noted how healthcare funding makes up the biggest portion of the state’s record-high $77 billion budget, followed by education funding. He later lamented the state’s rejection of expanding Medicaid, which he said would have provided more than 60,000 jobs.
On a brighter note, Bracy said legislators approved allowing individual schools to choose their own instructional materials, rather than having them controlled by the state.
He said Florida’s state representatives can introduce six bills each legislative session. One of his more-recently proposed bills, called the “dreamer’s driver’s license” bill, would have made it easier for some non-American citizens to obtain a driver’s license.
“They weren’t born here, but they were raised here,” he said of the proposed beneficiaries.
Gov. Rick Scott, however, vetoed this bill. Bracy said the governor’s rejection surprised him, considering how Scott approved allowing students who have graduated from Florida schools to get in-state college tuition rates, regardless of their parents’ immigration status.
Before the town hall meeting, Bracy talked about how he will host a job fair from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the Silver Star Recreation Center, 2801 N. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando.
Job seekers should dress professionally and bring several copies of their resume to this free event, which will feature about 40 employers. Job seekers can register for the fair at careersourcecentralflorida.com/district45jobfair.
“I really want to help people connect with employers and get a job on the spot,” Bracy said.