George Oliver III reclaims Ocoee City Commission District 4

Following a long battle filled with legal definitions, the city charter and court rulings, George Oliver III is officially back on the Ocoee Commission.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
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George Oliver III officially returned to his former seat on the Ocoee City Commission, representing the people of District 4, after he was sworn into office at the commission meeting Tuesday, April 2. 

“Thank you all so much for standing with me, standing by me and walking with me,” Oliver said. “When I turned around and I looked back at this, a lot of you were there for me. When I picked up the phone, I saw a lot of Scriptures that were sent to me. You all were there when I was down, and I got a lot of text messages filled with prayers from you. Thank you so much. I give all the praise and honor to God because, without Him, I wouldn’t be standing before you today.”

After originally winning re-election for the District 4 seat in 2021, Oliver stepped down from his position to run for Ocoee mayor in 2023; which created a vacancy for the remainder of Oliver’s original four-year term. An interim commissioner was named — Ages Hart — until a special election could be held to determine Oliver’s successor.

Following a back-and-forth legal battle about whether Oliver could run to be his own successor, the courts ruled in Oliver’s favor.

Facing Nate Robertson for his former seat, Oliver narrowly edged out his opponent and won the March 2024 special election by 44 votes (51.51% vs. 48.49%). 

In his first meeting back on the commission, Oliver used his time in the commissioner’s comments section to speak on his election experience. 

“It was a very challenging election, (but) it was exciting at the same time, so I want to thank everyone who came out and supported my campaign for re-election,” Oliver said. “As an elected official for District 4, I’m going to work hard to work with the other elected officials here to make sure we continue to move our city forward. … That is a promise that I make not only to District 4 but (also) to the city and to all the commissioners, as well.”

Oliver went on to address a comment he often heard from constituents while on the campaign trail: Community activities for young adults in Ocoee. He pointed to the city’s website and Parks and Recreation Department as a great resource for those looking for things to do in the city. 

Townhouses denied

City commissioners denied a proposed townhome project at 474 S. Bluford Ave. following the second reading. The developers sought to change the land use from a low-density residential classification to medium-density.

The proposed development on Bluford Avenue falls in District 2, Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen’s district. During the discussion of the developer’s request, Wilsen voiced her concerns and did not support the development. 

“The concern I have is the impact that it will have (on the) adjacent properties that I see in the future may get developed and the impact it’ll have on the community,” Wilsen said. “Right now, I’m not in favor … of these five units being placed there.”

Along with Wilsen, Mayor Rusty Johnson voted to deny the amendment, while commissioners Oliver and Richard Firstner voted to approve. With a split 2-2 vote (Commissioner Scott Kennedy was absent), Johnson’s vote was the tie-breaker, and the request was denied. 

G3 Development

The City Commission directed staff to proceed with a master developer contract with G3 Development for Ocoee’s development plan for its downtown area. 

As master developer, G3 will oversee all aspects of construction, implement marketing strategies and ensure project funding is in place. It also will work as either the primary developer of a specific project or strategic partner and will collaborate with architects, urban designers, engineers and other professionals to design proposed developments. 

In other news
  • During her comment at the Ocoee City Commission meeting, Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen requested and received consensus support to pursue unifying the ZIP codes for the addresses in Ocoee. According to Wilsen, there are five different postal codes used for properties in the city of Ocoee that are classified as different cities. Essentially, various properties that are located in Ocoee have ZIP codes classified as Apopka or Orlando, for example. The city previously pursued this case, but because it involves the U.S. Postal Service, it needs to be approved via a federal bill. This complicated the pursuit, and it failed the first time.
  • The commission authorized city staff to proceed with a final contract for the construction of a new fire station with Fortress Secured LLC. 
  • The city authorized the submission of an application to the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program for the purchase of safety education equipment. 
  • The Ocoee Human Rights Diversity Board’s request for a speaker series as part of its 2024 project, Diversity Drives Ocoee, was approved. 



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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