Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Mark A. Maciel has announced his withdrawal from the city of Winter Garden’s municipal General Election to support and endorse a new candidate for his position: Chloe Johnson.
Maciel announced his decision Thursday, Nov. 16, two days after the city announced the election qualifying results Tuesday, Nov. 14.
“It has been my honor to serve the residents of Winter Garden these past eight years,” Maciel said. “I felt it was time to make way for (a) new generation and fresh leadership in District 3. During my term as commissioner, the city of Winter Garden has executed key land purchases for affordable housing, secured (more than) $20 million for the redevelopment of east Winter Garden, annexed key parcels for the betterment of the residents, spotlighted (the) important history of our east Winter Garden neighborhood, championed the redevelopment of Dyson’s Plaza and Center Street, reduced crime, fought for smart development and more.
“I’m so very grateful to city staff and their tireless efforts, particularly, our City Manager Jon (C.) Williams,” Maciel said. “I’m so grateful for the unyielding support and leadership from our great mayor, John Rees, and the rest of the Winter Garden commission. I will truly miss our time together. … But I will still be here to serve our great city whenever called upon.”
A NEW GENERATION
Maciel said he decided months ago to support and endorse a new candidate for his position: Chloe Johnson.
“I’ve been working with Chloe Johnson for many years and witnessed her unyielding commitment to our city,” he said. “She has served diligently on the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, One Winter Garden, and I recently appointed her to the Planning and Zoning Board. She is well prepared for the challenge, as there is much more work to do. I’m looking forward to supporting Chloe in her campaign for city commissioner, District 3.”
Johnson, 36, was born and raised in Winter Garden.
For a time, her father moved the family away, but several years ago, she returned to the city with her husband to raise their own family.
The couple has four children, and Johnson said the family loves living in her hometown.
“(District 3) is special to me, because when I was young it was this district where I saw and learned from good people who were helping each other during hard times,” she said. “It inspired me to do the same when I was able, and it is from those early years here in this district that I have come to where I am today. I love serving and helping others.”
Johnson said District 3 is a diverse community that includes the historic east Winter Garden neighborhood, which is where she was born and currently lives.
“In addition to that, and many other wonderful residential communities, the district also covers many of our commercial areas,” she said. “Areas such as those east of Dillard and Daniels … and south of Plant Street, including the Winter Garden Village open-air shopping center; these are critical aspects of our local economy and its success. The unique and bold colors of varying aspects of District 3 make it the best district to live in. We have many different socioeconomic groups, which means many different needs, but we are united by the commonality that is the Winter Garden lifestyle. We all want family-friendly, safe neighborhoods and low-density charm.”
Johnson said receiving Maciel’s support is the truest honor she can have regarding the upcoming election.
“Commissioner Maciel has done an incredible job for eight years serving our district and all of Winter Garden,” she said. “I first met the commissioner while working together on the needs of our community. To think that he feels I am the person for the job is truly motivating, and I do not intend to let him down, or any of our residents. I will bring my unique perspective to the table of having come from the historic east Winter Garden neighborhood, and I will learn from him, as I know I have much to learn. However, I am motivated and empowered to bring this community together.
“I am ready to serve all the residents in District 3 and if they, like Commissioner Maciel, see me fit to be their next commissioner, I am ready to do all that is necessary to serve them well,” she said. “I have been meeting with residents and other stakeholders and look forward to talking one on one with as many residents as possible. I am eager for this new chapter of service in my life.”
Johnson lives by what Christ spoke in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“I honestly think this opportunity chose me; it aligns with my purpose,” she said. “Trust God, do the right thing and serve others. I want to be an example for others to do what you love and love what you do. Many people started to encourage me to run for commissioner. When I told my husband, he said he already saw the vision and would be there for me every step of the way. I began to feel God calling me toward it. We see a world where politics is often filled with division and anger; it does not have to be like that here at the local level. I believe in love toward others, and I believe in community. We are better together.”
Johnson runs her own nonprofit “I am Her,” where she has sought to uplift, build and encourage women in a positive environment. She also serves as the vice president of One Winter Garden; serves on the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, Orange County’s Citizens Safety Task Force and the city’s Planning & Zoning Board; and is the children’s director at Eight Waves.
She volunteers with Global Not Local and Hope Along the Way, both of which are giving organizations formed out of District 3 in Winter Garden.