Voters select representatives for Winter Garden, Ocoee and Windermere

Residents in Ocoee, Windermere and Winter Garden elected a mix of new and returning candidates to help lead their respective municipalities.

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  • | 8:06 p.m. March 9, 2021
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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It was a big day for local politics in West Orange County, as voters from three municipalities — Ocoee, Windermere and Winter Garden — went to the polls to elect their leaders March 9.

Winter Garden voters selected members for districts 2, 3 and 4, while Ocoee had openings for City Commission District 2 and District 4 seats. In Windermere, three Town Council seats were available. Between the three municipalities, there was a total of 16 candidates seeking election.

In Winter Garden, six candidates campaigned for three open seats on the City Commission — districts 2, 3 and 4.

District 2 proved to be a tight race, as newcomers Ron Mueller and Iliana Ramos Jones went head to head for a seat on the dais to replace outgoing Commissioner Bob Buchanan. In the end, Mueller squeezed by his opponent by 66 votes, besting her with 52.65% of the vote to her 47.35%.

“I love Winter Garden,” Mueller said in his February Q&A with the Observer. “When I moved here four years ago, I felt this place was home, and I have been so warmly welcomed. Winter Garden has accomplished a lot, and I am proud of it. As such, I want to preserve our way of life here. This is one of the top 12 cities to live in, and I want to make sure it stays that way, never losing its charm.”

In District 3, former City Commissioner Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski challenged incumbent Mark Maciel, who took over Olszewski’s seat in early 2017 following his  initial resignation to pursue election as Orange County District 1 Commissioner. Maciel held onto his seat with 61.05% of the vote to Olszewski’s 38.95%.

“Today the voters honored me greatly with another term,” Maciel posted on his Facebook page. “I will never let you down and I will always be available for each of you. We are one Winter Garden.”

District 4 Commissioner Colin Sharman will retain his seat after receiving 72.48% of the vote compared with 27.52% earned by his opponent, newcomer Dawn Antonis. Sharman has served as a Winter Garden commissioner since 2006.

“Winter Garden is community,” Sharman said. “Winter Garden came together under one nonpartisan candidate. It doesn’t matter who you are: If you’re a citizen of Winter Garden, Commissioner Sharman will work hard for you no matter what. ... I’ll work hard for you.”

There was no questioning who the residents of Ocoee’s District 2 wanted to represent them on the City Commission, as incumbent Rosemary Wilsen beat challenger Knox Anderson by 485 votes (758 to 272) — or 73.52% of the 1,031 who cast their ballots during the election.

“I am excited — I am thrilled to be able to represent the residents of District 2 for the next term,” Wilsen said. “I have so many people to thank, and I feel like I got great support from our district. I can’t thank the residents of our district enough for coming out and voting, and allowing me to be their commissioner for this next term.”

In a packed District 4 race, incumbent George Oliver III won a decisive victory, as he picked up 56.15% of the 1,325 ballots cast during this year’s municipal election to defeat challengers Lori Hart, Joel Keller and Keith Richardson. 

“The way I feel now — I felt this way this morning at 6 o’clock,” Oliver said. “We finished campaigning yesterday — we stopped campaigning yesterday — and we were out here to celebrate today; we had good friends, food, family, and we had a great time. I’m so proud of the citizens of Ocoee for what they have done — they have had a resounding voice of change. ‘We want some change and we want to keep those folks in office (who) are willing to fight for that change,’ and I am that candidate.”

Four candidates were vying for three seats up for grabs on Windermere’s Town Council. Current council members Liz Andert and Bob McKinley did not to seek reelection, while incumbent Bill Martini sought to retain his seat.

Windermere voters elected newcomers Mandy David (27.59%) and Anthony Davit (30.68%) to the Town Council and also voted to reelect Martini (31.80%). Mike Hargreaves received 9.92%.

“I’m happy that the town of Windermere residents placed their trust in me,” Davit said. “Hopefully ... we can continue to make some positive changes in Windermere.”

David also expressed her gratitude to voters for trusting her to represent Windermere.

“I’m humbled at the support I received from this amazing town,” David said. 

Martini said he is looking forward to continuing to push forward with upcoming projects.

“I’m excited about the next two years,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with Mandy (David) and Tony (Davit). They seem like great candidates to me and are going to be really beneficial to the town.”


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