Before taking a trip to the ballot box for this fall’s elections, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections has one big caution.
“The key thing about this year’s election is that it’s all new,” Bill Cowles said. “You’ve got new districts, new polling place numbers, and you’ve got possible changes in your polling location.”
In order to sort out all the changes following the redistricting taking affect this year, Cowles, along with a few state and U.S. candidates walk us through the biggest changes on the ballot, and how they’re impacting our area:
U.S. Representative, new District 7: Incumbent vs. Incumbent
The most significant change in representation for those living in Winter Park and Maitland, Cowles said, is the changes to U.S. Representative District 7. The district was formed by the melding of U.S. Representative District 24, currently represented by Sandy Adams, into District 7, represented by John Mica, to form a new District 7 spanning all of Seminole County, Maitland and sections of Winter Park. The Republican candidates will face Democratic and independent challengers in the general election after the Aug. 14 primary.
The redistricting isn’t much of a change, Adams said, as she’ll still be representing a large portion of her former constituency, where she served as a State Representative and as a U.S. Representative, if she were elected. Adams, a former Oviedo resident, began her political life in Seminole County.
The redistricting isn’t much of a change, Adams said, as she’ll still be representing a large portion of her former constituency, where she served as a State Representative and as a U.S. Representative, if she were elected.
“It wasn’t something that was anticipated,” Adams said. “It happens, but at the end of the day, this district belongs to the people, and the people will make a decision on who they want to represent.”
For Mica, who represented the formerly geographically stretched district that dove southward into Winter Park, part of the area is a familiar one. The district has expanded farther into his home area, he said.
“The district doesn’t stop at Palmer (Avenue) anymore, so I’m getting wider calls,” Mica said. But the longtime congressman said he was already working to help people in other parts of Winter Park, especially at Mead Garden, where he used to live.
For more information the candidates: The East Side Regional Hob Nob, organized by the Oviedo-Winter Springs and East Orlando chambers of commerce, will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26. Candidates from across Central Florida will be in attendance. For a full list of candidates attending, ticketing information and more, visit esrhobnob.com
State Senate – lose Simmons, gain Gardiner
Following the passing of the fair districting legislation amendments passed in 2010, it was deemed district lines should, where possible, be drawn to follow natural, geographical boundaries. In the case of current District 22 Sen. David Simmons, this meant his district leaving Winter Park and Maitland and moving up to the Orange-Seminole county line.
“While I love Maitland and Winter Park, I love Seminole County and my district moved up to the north and the logical thing to do was to, of course, stay in the district I have represented, which is now District 10,” said Simmons, who is now running for a district that covers all of Seminole and a southern part of Volusia county.
Moving into Winter Park and Maitland is the district currently represented by Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, forming new District 13. This district stretches as far west as John Young Parkway and as far east as the Atlantic Ocean.
“That’s a major change for them,” Cowles said, as Gardiner’s current District 9 primarily covers west Orange County.
Challenging Republican Gardiner in the general election is Winter Park attorney Christopher Charles Pennington, called upon to run by the Florida Democratic Party.
Pennington, who lives in East Orlando, said living and working in two areas of the district will help his campaign for the new district, while he is also working to familiarize himself with the remaining area.
State representatives get new District 30
To learn more about the redistricting and which district you now live in, keep an eye out for a new voter information notice and card set to mail out July 5. To find out now, visit ocfelections.com On this website you can also find information on how to update the signature on file with your voter registration before the Aug. 14 primary election.
Rep. Scott Plakon used to live right in the middle of his Florida House District 37 at his Longwood home, but after redistricting dramatically changed the shape of districts in Central Florida, he was left running for a new seat in the new District 30.
That change doesn’t matter, Plakon said, mentioning that his political approach has a broad appeal.
“Over the past few years I’ve built a following of people who want to see me re-elected,” he said. “I am a conservative who has successfully worked with the other party.”
He’ll be running against Maitland teacher Karen Castor Dentel, who entered the race April 16 in response to what she called mistreatment of the education system in Tallahassee and anger over the redistricting process.
“When I looked at that map and I was already angry, and then I thought, ‘That is my home, we need a voice,’” she said in an interview with the Observer in April.