It will take a runoff election to determine the next Commissioner of Orange County District 5.
Incumbent candidate Ted Edwards and challenger Emily Bonilla will face off in the general election in November after both came out on top during Tuesday’s primary election – though neither cracked the 50 percent voter threshold.
Edwards captured 42.3 percent of the votes while Bonilla captured 27.65 percent, passing candidates Timothy McKinney (22.48 percent) and Gregory Eisenberg (7.57 percent), according to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections unofficial results as of Tuesday night.
“I feel very gratified to have come out first in the race,” Edwards said. “With this many candidates in the race I was I hoping for 50 percent. We fell a little bit short, so I look forward to the general election and winning it that time in November.”
Edwards first began his stint as Orange County Commissioner back in 2010 after former Commissioner Bill Segal resigned midway through his term. Edwards also served as Commissioner for District 5 from 1996 to 2004.
If Edwards wins this year, it will mark his final term, as he’ll have termed out.
“It’s been very nostalgic…. It’s been a very special day,” Edwards said. “The first time I ran there were five people in the race. I won the primary and then the general. Hopefully history is going to repeat itself.”
But challenger Emily Bonilla hopes to overthrow the long-time Commissioner. She has made fighting controversial development projects like the Lake Pickett Developments the focal point of her campaign, and told the Observer in early August that she’s the candidate who will properly manage the county’s growth and help preserve precious environmental resources. She demonstrated her ability to gather resident support when she started Save East Orlando, a community initiative now known as East of the Econ that is battling encroaching development east of the Econlockhatchee River.
“We moved out here to get away from the city,” Bonilla told the Observer. “For them to encroach upon that choice that everyone out here chose wasn’t right.”
“As for our commissioner, he’s not listening to us…. I decided to run.”
Orange County residents will have to wait until November to see who their District 5 Commissioner will be, but they also voted through one lone state amendment by 74.37 percent: a tax break for homes with solar panel technology, exempting the devices from being calculated in ad valorem taxes.