Ocoee Commission Candidate Q&A: Joel Keller, District 4

Joel Keller is one of four candidates running for Ocoee Commission District 4.

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  • | 12:08 p.m. February 18, 2021
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Age: 66

Family: Wife of 36 years, Laura; son, Christopher; daughter, Danielle

Education: Associate’s degree in computer science 

Related experience: Former commissioner; served on both the Planning and Zoning Board and the Police Advisory Council; served on the Metroplan Advisory Council

Why do you want to serve as District 4 commissioner?

To complete the work that we started on the downtown improvements; bringing more jobs and small businesses to the city; the widening of Clarke Road, which will ease congestion during rush hours; and getting one ZIP code, which will help some of our citizens with improved auto and homeowner insurance rates.

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

Finishing our downtown plan, bringing small businesses and jobs to the city; widening Clarke Road; getting the city one ZIP code; working with Orange County to widen McCormick Road; and working with OCPS to get another middle school in Ocoee.

Why should District 4 residents vote for you? 

I am a proven fighter for our city. When FEMA changed the flood plain zones in Ocoee, I fought it and got the changes reversed, saving the homeowners hundreds of dollars on their insurance. When the county wanted to put a garbage transfer station off McCormick Road, I fought it, stopping the project. When the city was looking at getting rid of the fire department and going to the county fire department, I fought and won, keeping the Ocoee Fire Department. From fighting and beating cancer, to fighting for the citizens of Ocoee, I am a proven survivor, fighter and Ocoee leader.

What are the top challenges the city of Ocoee faces? What are some potential ways to address them?

Small business growth, which we are addressing through the downtown revitalization plan, and road congestion, working with the state and county on needed improvements as well as working on our city roads (such as) Clarke Road.

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

Finish the downtown revitalization, widen Clarke Road and have Ocoee all one ZIP code.

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

A number of our roads are state and county roads, so we need to work with them to improve these roads within our city. McCormick Road will need to be widened, and we will need to work with the county to get this done. Clarke Road is a city road, and we need to budget finishing the widening of that road.

Last November, the city held events in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the 1920 Ocoee Massacre. How does the city continue to foster positive relationships throughout the community?

Through the Human Relations Diversity Board and things (such as) Black History Month and the MLK Parade, we strive to include everyone in the community.

How does Ocoee balance residential and commercial development with preserving the city’s heritage and culture?

By keeping up-to-date our planning and zoning guidelines and working within them to get a good balance of homes and businesses throughout the city. At the same time, making sure we have parks and green space for the citizens to enjoy.

Some have raised concerns regarding the city’s ability to retain firefighters. What steps should the city take to ensure quality first responders and other civil servants stay in Ocoee?

We will always lose workers to Orange County and Orlando — just because of their size. But by treating our employees with respect and working together with our unions when it comes to bargaining, we can get and keep quality employees throughout the city.


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