- February 22, 2018
Ocoee voters learned more about the candidates running for the Ocoee City Commission districts 2 and 4 seats Monday, Feb. 26, at the Ocoee Political Forum, hosted by the Woman’s Club of Ocoee.
The election is set for Tuesday, March 13. Voters will cast their ballots at the Woman’s Club of Ocoee, 4 N. Lakewood Drive, for District 2, and at the Jim Beech Recreation Center, 1820 A.D. Mims Road, for District 4.
District 2 candidates are challenger and retired Ocoee Police Sgt. Robert Rivera and incumbent Rosemary Wilsen, who is running for her fourth three-year term. In District 4, challenger George Oliver III is running his second race against incumbent Joel Keller, who is seeking his fifth three-year term as a commissioner.
The candidates debated a number of topics, including political experience, term limits and balancing development with preserving the city’s charm.
“To keep the small-town image, I don’t think it’s the large growth,” Rivera said. “I think it’s what kind of businesses are you bringing here, (and) what kind of business do you keep?”
Wilsen said she is excited about the way the city has handled its growth so far.
“We’re keeping trucks out of neighborhoods,” she said. “That’s how you maintain your small-town atmosphere, keep the businesses to one side. … This is positive growth, and this is what we need in Ocoee.”
Oliver also said keeping businesses within certain areas of the city is important to maintaining the city’s small-town atmosphere and added the city also should consider infrastructure as it continues to grow. He suggested working with developers to help out with road infrastructure improvements.
“The thing we have to look at are those small (road) arteries,” Oliver said. “The growth is fine, but we might want to slow it down just a little bit and look at the infrastructure.”
Keller said citizen input is key.
“Part of that is how you go about designing it; what you do with planning (and) what you do with zoning,” Keller said. “With planning and zoning is how you keep that charm with the city. … We need involved people (with planning).”
The candidates also were asked for their thoughts on city commissioners having a two-term limit.
“I whole-heartedly believe in term limits,” Oliver said. “There’s no need for someone to be sitting in these (city commission) seats to die in these seats.”
Although Wilsen is running for her fourth term, she said she was not opposed to term limits.
“I don’t intend to be 85 years old and sitting up here,” Wilsen said. “But I want to see what we started finished.”
Keller said he thinks a two-term limit would not afford a commissioner enough time to get adjusted to the position.
“It takes a period of time just to get familiar with what you’re doing,” Keller said. “Six years is not a lot of time, really, for someone to be up here. … By the time you learn what’s going on, you’re going to be out.”
Rivera said it is up to the voters to decide how long a commissioner should stay in office.
“I give credit more to the voters (because) if they want you out, they can vote you out,” Rivera said. “I give credit to the voters to (have) no term limits and have their say.”