Geraldine Thompson unseats Bobby Olszewski in HD 44 race

Geraldine Thompson, of Windermere, became the first Democrat to take the Florida House District 44 seat.

  • By
  • | 11:20 p.m. November 6, 2018
Geraldine Thompson.
Geraldine Thompson.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

In a close race for Florida House District 44, Geraldine Thompson edged out incumbent Bobby Olszewski to secure her return to Tallahassee.

Thompson, 69, is a Windermere resident who served in the Florida House of Representatives for six years and in the Florida Senate for four. She challenged Olszewski — the former Winter Garden city commissioner who had held the seat since October 2017 — and garnered 51.29% of the vote. Olszewski took 48.71% — a difference of 2.58%.

In a victory speech given during her election watch party Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Embassy Suites Downtown Orlando Hotel, Thompson noted she is the first Democrat, woman and person of color to be elected to the seat.

"They've been stacking the deck against us for many years,” Thompson said. “They’ve been stacking the deck in favor of the privileged, in favor of people who have money, in favor of dynasties. But this particular race shows that we are moving toward a point where we are knocking the doors down. 

“This is a district that has been so gerrymandered in the past that a Democrat has never been competitive," she said. "A woman has never been elected to (Florida) House District 44. A Democrat has never been elected to House District 44, and a person of color has never been elected in House District 44 — so tonight, you’re looking at a trifecta.”

During the speech, Thompson said she took a year off to travel but returned to run for office when she “saw what was happening.”

She decided she wanted to come back to advocate for issues such as affordable health care, quality public education and environmental conservation.

“I'm going back to Tallahassee to fight for affordable health care for the 800,000 people who don't have insurance,” she said. “I'm going back to fight for quality education in public education without draining out money from public education and giving it to experimental schools where there’s no accountability. 

“And I’m going back to fight for our environment,” she said. “We see all these fish killed, and the algae blooms and the red tide — so I’m going back to fight for our environment. And I’m going back to fight for sensible gun reform. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines.”


There’s a new sheriff in town: former Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

Voters elected Mina as Orange County’s next sheriff on Tuesday, Nov. 6, to replace Orange County Mayor-elect Jerry Demings.

By press time Tuesday, unofficial election results showed Mina led the race for sheriff with 45.47% of the vote. Orlando businessman Darryl B. Sheppard garnered 40.66% of the vote, and retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Jose “Joe” Lopez trailed with 13.87%.

“I want to thank the voters of Orange County for looking past politics and choosing me to keep them safe,” Mina said. “I know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, and I’m ready for those challenges.”

Mina, 50, led the Orlando Police Department for 28 years and now steps up to the task of leading the largest law-enforcement agency in Central Florida. The U.S. Army veteran first began work with OPD in 1991, serving in various roles until being named chief in 2014. 

He led the agency through events such as the Pulse nightclub massacre in June 2016 and the death of Lt. Debra Clayton in 2017. As police chief, he managed more than 1,000 personnel and oversaw a $146 million annual budget. As sheriff, he now will manage about 2,600 employees and a $250 million budget.

In October, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer appointed Orlando Rolón as the new police chief for OPD following Mina’s retirement to run for sheriff.

During Mina’s run as a nonpartisan candidate, he was endorsed by every mayor in Orange County, as well as by predecessor Demings. Mina’s campaign included highlights from his tenure as chief of police, such as reduction of crime, institution of body-worn cameras and experience with high-profile cases. 

He will be sworn in as sheriff Dec. 4.


Latest News