A nonprofit and for-profit business owner, Hope Bellamy has been serving the community for more than 20 years. Bellamy is the founder of Zigs Nation Digital Network and oversees the ZAPZ Academy. He holds a certification in senior assisted living and business analytics.
Why are you running for the District 1 seat?
I am an Ocoee resident. Ocoee has come a long way. … The residents today are not the residents of yesterday, so diversity is needed on a same level. Right now … with George Oliver running for mayor and Mr. Larry (Brinson) stepping down — it leaves those two seats vacant that once did have diversity … and I think Ocoee needs to have diversity as the people as a whole. The mayor is doing a wonderful job, he works across the board, but we still need diversity in order to move things accordingly.
What is your vision for the city?
I come from the lifestyle of a criminal. I got my rights back, and over the last 20 years, I have been doing community outreach, nonprofit, youth-programs. So I bring a lot to the table that normally elected officials don’t bring. A lot of times, they come two, three years down the line before the election and jump on boards and committees and all the good stuff prior to the election years. … Mine dates back 20 years, and I never wanted to go into politics on the level of a seat, but I see that Ocoee can be a pilot city for all the small cities. Ocoee can definitely move in that direction; it just needs some work — make it more user friendly. So there’s a lot that needs to be done, and I feel I’m the most experienced to getting it done.
What changes would you bring to the city?
Diversity is No. 1. Ocoee has a mix of African-Americans, Caucasians, Indians, Mexicans. But when you go to the city level, you don’t have the diversity to understand their language. … So I think we are not inclusive to everybody that resides here in Ocoee. My District 1 is getting a lot of apartments, buildings and homes, and the community was not addressed properly about this. … So, one of the things I want to do is, when developers do come into the city, that the community can actually voice their opinion. Another thing is an open-door policy where citizens can come up to the commissioners and talk to them not only at City Hall but also (in) the community.
How do you differ from the other candidate?
The fact that I was on the other side of the fence. I was there. I came from the low income; I came from the barely ate, I’ve been there. So what makes me different is that I’ve lived that, and I know how to get over that rope. I can relate better to the community as a whole, because I am one of them; I am part of them. … We’ve got to start grooming younger individuals to get into politics. … So we can have younger individuals to get on this board.