Ocoee Commission Candidate Q&A: Rosemary Wilsen, District 2

Rosemary Wilsen, the current incumbent, is one of two candidates running for Ocoee Commission District 2.

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  • | 11:53 a.m. February 18, 2021
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Age: 65 years young

Family: Married 41 years to husband, Fred; two adult children

Education: UCF graduate with a bachelor’s degree from School of Social Work

Related experience: Incumbent; social worker for 28 years with the Christian Service Center in Ocoee; Ocoee Lions Club and the Woman’s Club of Ocoee; Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Merit Board, Redistricting Committee, Education Board, Child Protection and Recommendation Committee, Tri County League of Cities, Florida League of Cities

Why do you want to serve as District 2 commissioner?

I have a genuine interest for the safety and well-being of the residents who live and work in Ocoee. Maintaining city taxes at the lowest millage rate and city services at the highest level are paramount to me. Smart planning and wise growth to preserve the charm of our residential areas is extremely essential. 

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

I want to see the downtown project completed. This was what our residents asked for, and while this is moving along, it needs to be completed.

I want to maintain the charm of our city (to) not be disturbed by zoning decisions that would place industrial projects near residential homes. Fortunately, Ocoee has many existing industrial areas to support commercial growth. 

Why should District 2 residents vote for you?

I have the passion and commitment to serve the needs and wants of Ocoee residents.  I have a strong record of being frugal while getting projects started and completed within budget.  I listen, gather facts and I am responsive to our residents. Addressing their questions and concerns, big and small alike. I attend the meetings and I am prepared with all the relevant information to make wise and thoughtful decisions. I believe that my knowledge of the needs of our district and responsiveness to the residents would make me a better choice for the position. I have committed the time and effort to be an involved resident and commissioner in Ocoee including City Boards, local club involvement and volunteering in the community. I offer the 11,000 residents of District 2 a vision for Ocoee and a commitment to complete projects. Ocoee needs a commissioner who has the time and ability to serve the community.

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

Growth is happening in Ocoee. We need to continue to plan for the future without losing sight of what makes Ocoee a wonderful place to live. We as a commission are proactive in making decisions. As with Government projects can be labor intensive and take longer than a snap of the finger. Long range planning and projecting costs and setting funds aside to complete projects is a complex budgeting process. 

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

1. End the pandemic and make vaccines available for those who want them. 

2. Roads repaved and sidewalks repaired or replaced, as needed.

3. (Because) water is a non-renewable resource and essential to life, I wish every home has reclaimed water access.

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

As residential and commercial projects are approved by the City Commission, a traffic study is included, which gives us a look forward as to how the new project will affect traffic on our streets. This report helps to guide the commission as to whether our streets are adequate to accommodate the projected traffic.

Some existing roads were not built to handle the tremendous  growth. These roads were built long before many of us arrived in Ocoee and need to be addressed as the need arises. An example is Clarke Road. from A.D. Mims Road. to Claracona Road which is presently two lanes and will be expanded to four lanes now that there is rapid growth along  Claracona Road. Fifteen years ago the traffic did not warrant four lanes. Also, the cut through street from Bluford Avenue to Maguire Road improves traffic flow and once City Center opens there will be a change in traffic flow from Blackwood Avenue to Bluford Avenue.

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?

Last November the Human Relations and Diversity Board (HRDV) held a week long Remembrance of the horrific 1920 event. The City celebrates Black History Month by the HRDV Board holding an Essay Contest in local elementary schools and the city celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.

The HRDV Board has held the Martin Luther King Parade with a presentation of speakers following the parade. I am proud to say Ocoee is a diverse community and every person is respected and treated as a valued member of our community.

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

This can be a challenge for any city. Ocoee is carefully watching this and with smart planning we can maintain the charm of the residential areas while keeping industrial projects in the industrial areas. We are very fortunate to have four major highways running through our city allowing both our residents and business enterprises easy access. We need business to lower our residential millage rate but not at the expense  of disrupting neighborhoods or our internal road system.

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 have a city manager form of government, which means that the commission collectively provides direction to the city manager, who manages daily operations. The Fire Union's contract is collectively bargained with City staff. This process is governed by state law and we have rules to follow to ensure fair bargaining. It has always been my desire that any service we offer as a City be competitive and fair with respect to comparable cities our size. Unfortunately, attempts near election time to exacerbate issues, such as attrition, education funding, are not appropriate.  What gets approved is what the Fire Union agrees to at the table. If they do not agree, they have the ability to go to impasse with the bargaining team, which has a statutory process for finalizing the contract. Since we are now in negotiations on a new contract, I as a commissioner cannot comment. I am a firm believer in remaining competitive as to our first responders' pay and benefits, as well as all our City employees.


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