BY GABBY BAQUERO AND DANIELLE HENDRIX
ORANGE COUNTY With more than 50% of the vote, Oakland resident Betsy VanderLey secured her place on the Orange County Commission Tuesday.
VanderLey earned 42,036 (53.5%) votes. Winter Garden City Commissioner Robert “Bobby” Olszewski received 36,541 (46.5%) votes.
VanderLey celebrated her win at a watch party at The Vineyard Wine Bar and Healthy Bistro at The Grove Orlando.
“It’s a really great feeling,” VanderLey said of the win. “A lot of people helped make this happen. It’s never just one person. Look at how many people were in here. Everyone of those folks in there has either written a check to help me do this or waved a sign or knocked on a door or made a phone call.
“There’s a lot of growth going on in District 1, and we all know it,” she said. “So we got to make sure that we’re planning for road infrastructure, for parks, for school capacity, for all of those things. And this first order of business is to figure out what’s already in the queue, so that I know if there’s things that are missing that need to be addressed.”
Olszewski watched the results at a private family gathering.
“I want to thank all of the voters who supported me in this campaign,” he said. “Obviously, we are disappointed with the results but I look forward to spending more time with my baby daughter, Reagan, and my wife, Alison. We are truly blessed as a family and look forward to what the future has in store for us.”
ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF
Incumbent Jerry Demings won reelection handily, earning 340,733 (65.35%) votes, compared to challenger Spike Hopkins’ 180,644 (34.65%) votes.
“I’m proud of what it signifies to have received affirmation from the voters of Orange County now for the third time, that I am the person they want to be the Orange County sheriff,” Demings said.
ORANGE COUNTY PROPERTY APPRAISER
Rick Singh earned another term as Orange County’s property appraiser, defeating challenger Edward DeAguilera in a heated race.
Singh earned 310,567 (60.69%) votes, while DeAguilera received 200,114 (39.11%) votes.
“The citizens of Orange County spoke loudly and clearly that they’re very satisfied,” Singh said.
ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 7
Incumbent Christine Moore defeated challenge Matthew Fitzpatrick to retain her seat as the District 7 representative on the Orange County School Board. Moore received 34,411 (55.63%) votes, compared to Fitzpatrick’s 27,450 (44.37%) votes.
“It was clear from what we kept hearing ... that people recognized how hard I work for their kids and the strides the school district made as a whole,” Moore said. “They expressed gratitude for the things that had been improved in the district.
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of work to be done with rebuilding Maxey Elementary and setting up a magnet program there," she said. "We’re going to have a series of meetings in January to get into the nitty-gritty of what the community wants to do, and in a year-and-one-half, we’re going to have a new school as we launch into a new era for that school. Of course, we’re going to see Windermere High next year, and we’ll be launching the one-to-one device program at SunRidge Middle. That will be our pilot (middle school), ahead of Ocoee and Lakeview.”
Fitzpatrick said he is ready to keep working as an educator.
“I’m disappointed, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “I’m still passionate about education, which means I have to try to help kids in a different way other than being on the School Board.
“I’m going to keep doing my job; I love what I’m doing, really," he said. "I have a great job at Orange Technical College. I love working with teachers and students. It’s not like I’m losing everything. There’s just certain things that I see in education that I think we need to fix. Moving forward, I still enjoy helping teachers and students, and nothing is going to change (about that). People that care about education, I want to be around those kind of people. I met a lot of good people during this campaign.”
ORANGE COUNTY CLERK OF THE COURT
Tiffany Moore Russell easily won reelection over challenger Daisy Arus. Russell received 349,468 (74.99%) votes, compared to Arus’ 116,565 (25.01%) votes.
U.S HOUSE DISTRICT 10
Democrat Val Demings won the U.S. House District 10 seat over Republican Thuy Lowe.
“I am so humbled and grateful that the people of Central Florida chose me to represent them in Washington,” Demings said. “As the daughter of a maid and a janitor, my parents taught me the importance of hard work and believing in myself. Without those values, I wouldn’t be standing here today. I have made it my priority to protect and serve this community for the past three decades, and I look forward to continuing that work in Washington.”
Lowe thanks everyone who supported her campaign.
“I am pleased with the numbers that we have received, which were a lot better than 67,000,” she said. “So we almost doubled that, and I feel good about that. … We have a lot of work to do and whether I’m an elected official or just a private citizen, I’m going to do what I can to help improve the quality of life of people.”