Apopka nursery owner Mark Byrd will be on the primary election this August in the race for the Orange County Commission, District 2.
“People like the rural feel of District 2 or the small-community feel of District 2, but it does grow. I think the management of growth is the hardest thing to wrap your head and hands around (when it comes to) a sense of balance.”— Mark Byrd
Byrd, 62, qualified by petition to be on the ballot. He said he is running for County Commission so he could give back to the community.
“I want to serve the community that’s been good to me,” Byrd said. “You hear it a lot, but it’s true — I want to give back to the community that’s been a big part of my life. … My faith and my community (are) everything to me. This community was good to me, and I feel like I have a responsibility to give back. It’s that simple. I don’t have to have the job. I want to do the job.”
A resident of Clarcona, Byrd said he has lived in District 2 his whole life. He grew up in Ocoee and moved to Apopka at 16. He’s lived and worked in Apopka and attended church in Pine Hills and Ocoee. He graduated from Apopka High School and attended Tennessee Temple University to study music. From there, he came back to West Orange and got into agriculture and spent 35 years working in a wholesale foliage business.
“My dad and mom had a small foliage nursery at the time,” Byrd said. “While I was in school, I decided to go back into the family business at the time. So, I came back and started working at the nursery. … I loved it.”
In addition to working in agriculture, Byrd said he’s been involved with the Florida Foliage Association — now called the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association — and has served on the board of directors for the Florida Farm Bureau.
“What qualifies me (for county commissioner) is my knowledge of the community and having a working relationship and working knowledge of how county government works,” Byrd said. “(Although) I’m a newcomer to elective office, I’m certainly no novice to the political process and community organizations. I served for several years on the Orange County Environmental Protection Commission.”
Byrd’s campaign is focused on increased accountability, improved efficiency and common-sense growth management.
“People like the rural feel of District 2 or the small-community feel of District 2, but it does grow,” Byrd said. “I think the management of growth is the hardest thing to wrap your head and hands around (when it comes to) a sense of balance. … It’s a balance of landowners that want to develop their property, balance of property rights with a need of housing in an area and the desires of homeowners in an area to want to keep a small-town feel — you have to balance all that.”
Byrd added safety as another important issue for his campaign.
“Safety is more than the fire department and more than the sheriff’s department,” Byrd said. “It’s proper sidewalks. It’s response time and making sure when somebody in some of our more rural areas of the county has an issue that the response time is good and things are done in a timely manner.”
According to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, other candidates include Antuan T. Bibbs, Frederick Carl Brummer, Christine Moore and Patricia Rumph. The primary will be held Aug. 28.