Winter Garden Commission Candidate Q&A: Iliana Ramos Jones, District 2

Iliana Ramos Jones is one of two candidates running for Winter Garden Commission District 2.

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  • | 12:02 a.m. February 11, 2021
Courtesy Iliana Ramos Jones
Courtesy Iliana Ramos Jones
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Age: 54

Family: Husband, Charlie

Education: Bachelor’s in business administration, University of South Florida; certified general contractors license

Related experience: Co-owner and chief financial officer, Empire Finish Systems LLC; president, Property Owners Association of Industrial Center Park @ Britt Plaza; board member, West Orange Chamber of Commerce; Winter Garden resident for more than 20 years; completed West Orange Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership West Orange class

Why do you want to serve as District 2 commissioner?

I find that I get the most satisfaction from helping my employees and their families achieve goals in life. I have had the pleasure of serving my community through my business, and now I want to extend my services and get more involved in the direction of Winter Garden. I also want to represent the growing Hispanic community.

If you are elected, what do you hope to accomplish as a commissioner?

I would like to continue the development of Tucker Ranch, the West Orange Trail, and the cleaning Lake Apopka project and, God willing, see it to fruition.

Why should District 2 residents vote for you?

I have operated a business in Winter Garden for 25 years where I am chief financial officer. I have also lived in the community for most of that time. Many of my nieces and nephews have graduated from the local public schools. I have a vested interest in Winter Garden — maintaining its charm and character — and will work with the city manager and other commissioners to maintain a fiscally sound budget.

What are your thoughts on Winter Garden’s approach to managing or accommodating growth within the city?

The city’s approach to filling commissioner seats requires the candidate to live in the district. This ensures that they have a stake in the neighborhood. We all love the small-town charm and atmosphere, and living in District 2, I want to maintain that feel.

What are some potential solutions for managing traffic conditions in conjunction with the city’s growth?

Having three major thoroughfares crisscross our community is both a blessing and a curse (429, Turnpike and Highway 50). It allows quick access to all of Central Florida for residents but also brings traffic through our community. These access roads also make our community attractive for businesses looking for a great access. I would work with state, county and adjacent cities so vehicles coming into and leaving our city are routed in such a way as to minimize the disruption to local residents. I would encourage pedestrian and bicycle mobility to all parts of the city and into the downtown district. The city is already working to expand the golf cart connection to meet with Oakland which will reduce the vehicle traffic into downtown Winter Garden.

What are the top challenges you believe the city of Winter Garden faces? What are some potential ways to address them?

As the city of Orlando and surrounding areas grow, Winter Garden becomes a very attractive bedroom community to not only live but to visit. With this comes traffic, parking (and) the need to control urban sprawl. Ensuring infrastructure is in place before considering projects for approval will help to control this growth.

If you had a magic wand, what three issues for Winter Garden would you change immediately?

Clearly Winter Garden has some of the same issues as every community around the country — homelessness, child nutrition, access to education, affordable housing and access to health care. That list would be far longer than three. Outside of the obvious items listed above, I would: No. 1, clean Lake Apopka; No. 2, replace all aging infrastructure (bury/replace electric cabling, replace water mains, repave roads); and No. 3, design the perfect long-term traffic solution.

If elected, how will you ensure transparency and open communication with residents?

It has always been a concern of mine that we only hear from our elected officials on election years. Quarterly mailers with what are we doing, what are we planning to do, and ability to let us know their concerns would/could be addressed in these mailers. I will make myself available to my constituent via cell phone, email or in person to answer any questions or concerns they may have. For the transparency, I will abide by and ensure other commissioners adhere to all Sunshine State statutes.


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