Candidate Q&A: Tony Sabb, Orange County Mayor

Read our exclusive Q&A with Orange County Mayor candidate Tony Sabb.

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Age: 61

City/town of residence: Dr. Phillips

Family: Spouse, three children and three grandchildren

Education: Masters Webster Univ, Business Management, Masters Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Strategic Studies 

Qualifications: I am a 25 year Army veteran, colonel retired. I’ve commanded at the company and battalion level as an assault Black Hawk helicopter commander. In each command tour  I’ve participated in our nation's most major conflicts abroad to include operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I’ve served our country as a member as a senior officer and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Istanbul, Turkey as the rapid deployment Turkey forces chief operations officer. For 10 years after retiring from the military I worked as a defense contractor with major American defense corporations supporting  some of our nation’s most important missions abroad and foreign military sales in the countries of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. 

What are the key differences between you and your opponents?

As a veteran I’ve had the opportunity to serve in command and work in some  of the most elite units in the U.S Army to include the 101st airborne division and the 82nd airborne division. I commanded units during major conflicts abroad, giving me the experience to lead under a highly stressful situation and problem solve through complex problems.

My understanding and experience of government at the federal level working in both the military and corporate America both in the U.S. and abroad provide me with vast experience in program management and working with diverse groups of people and solving problems through compromise and programmatic methodologies.

I have vast experience in working with people and respecting and leveraging their contribution to meeting and solving complex problems. I believe this to be a very important aspect of my experience and qualifications.

Why should voters cast their votes for you?

I am convinced that our country is in significant turmoil at the federal and local levels. Orange County is undergoing a time where leadership is needed. The current administration has been more reactive than proactive in solving critical problems like housing, this is having a traumatic affect on Orange County residents. My leadership and experience provide me the requisite skills to confront and solve these problems. I will leverage the most experienced and knowledgeable team to anticipate, solve and meet the needs of Orange County. We are in a crisis and the current administration has failed to meet this crisis and strong leadership is needed to take our county forward.

What are the three most pressing issues facing Orange County today, and how will you address them?

Inflation continues to erode Orange County resident’s savings. This is a national issue, controlling and reducing it will be the work of the House Senate and the president of the U.S. However, what Orange County does not need is a one percent sales tax increase recently placed on the 2022 ballot by the current administration. This will exacerbate the problem and Orange County. Residents will Suffer greater financial hardship. I am campaigning to implore Orange County voters' awareness and explore our citizens not to vote for this regressive tax. My objective is to inform them of the consequences of inflation combined with a local tax increase on their families and the standard of living. As mayor, I will work with the governor to target areas where some relief and costs can be passed on to our residents. I will further not introduce any additional local taxes on our residents and work with county commissioners to assist our most vulnerable residents during this period of time and provide immediate assistance through nonprofit organizations in the form of food drives and other commodities and seek the generosity of our private sector. We will need to work together as compassionate citizens to get through this period.

The affordable housing issue in Orange County is nothing new. This problem has been with Orange County since the current administration took office. Little to date has been done to address it and we now have a crisis situation. The reason for this problem is the failure of the current administration to produce the adequate number of housing units in the county as population continues to increase. This is clearly a supply issue and can only be addressed through additional dwellings being made available to our residents. As mayor I want to bring local developers to the table and identify Orange County dilapidated dwellings and repurpose those units to meet our shortages while we also identify areas within Orange County that can be developed. I seek to do this through a competitive strategy. I will invite developers to compete for building contracts given specific evaluation criteria. Local developers will submit their plans to the county for consideration and selection. In the interim I do agree that there should be no more than 5% increase by landlords on Orange County residents.

Since 2020 Orange County homicides have continued to rise. In 2020 homicides rose 17% and in 2021 up to 57%. As mayor I will work with the county sheriff to identify areas most vulnerable and provide resources to address this issue. I believe that greater interaction between law-enforcement and communities must be achieved to build trust and cooperation. I also believe in the broken window concept that criminals must be accountable for their actions no matter how small. This strategy will make clear that if a crime is committed that person committing the crime will have to face justice. I also believe that Orange County law-enforcement must operate within proper code of conduct and be accountable as well should they be accused and found negligent of an infraction. County residents must believe that the law-enforcement is professional and accountable.

The Orange County homelessness problem continues to grow as inflation increases and population grows. This phenomenon  also produces crime and a strain on local communities. As mayor I will appoint a nonprofit director within my administration to identify and bring together nonprofit organizations and leverage their capabilities to address this problem. I will also work with the private sector to assist in their communities through donations and voluntarism. Finally, I will identify structures already under control of the county and repurpose them for additional housing space for our homeless. These facilities will need to have the requisite medical, human resources/counseling and security facets. This will be an enormous undertaking but one that cannot be ignored as the Orange County population continues to increase. We must keep our communities safe and can only do that by taking care of our most vulnerable.

In District 1, growth and growing pains continue to be important issues for voters. As mayor, how will you work toward solutions regarding those issues?

I will work with the District 1 commissioner to provide the resources to overcome these challenges.  I will do this by requiring a plan of action which addresses the district’s most critical issue and prioritize all others with a plan of action to attack each. Transparency to the District 1 residents will be in the form of town halls addressing our progress and answering questions posed by District 1 citizens.

District 1 constituents have differences of opinion regarding the representation they receive from the sitting District 1 commissioner. As mayor, how would you address those concerns? 

Every voter in Orange County has a voice. If there is dissatisfaction with a commissioner I would look for records of these grievances and how the current commissioner has sought to resolve them. If I find that these grievances are well founded in substantial in nature I would address them with the commissioner to understand what is being done to address them. I would then seek to meet with the commissioner and district one residents. My directive will be to find a meaningful solution to these problems no matter what. Orange County residents must know that their government is working for them.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change immediately in Orange County?

I would remove the one percent sales tax on the 2022 ballot. It’s folded into law this tax will be extremely damaging to the financial health of our residents

I would stop the flow of fentanyl and narcotics from coming into our county through increased law-enforcement and undercover operations. This scourge is killing our youth and negatively impacting the morale and welfare of our families.

I would immediately change the level of bureaucracy and red tape which prevent our residents and small businesses from operating and prospering. I would make each Orange County public servant aware that they are in their positions through the taxpayer funded payroll and should always show respect and kindness as they interact with our residents. 



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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