BREAKING: Former Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief announces candidacy for County Commission District 1

Stephen Davis in 2021 was fired from the department after he did not reprimand personnel who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

Stephen Davis, a former Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief has filed as a qualified write-in candidate for the District 1 Orange County Commission seat.

Davis joins incumbent Nicole Wilson and challenger Austin Arthur in the race. Davis’ candidacy also moves the race from November general election up to the primary ballot, Aug. 20.

If one candidate gets 50% plus one vote in the primary, that person wins the seat, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Public Information Officer Christopher Heath said.

Davis worked for the department for 15 years and advanced through the ranks to battalion chief. In 2021, Davis was terminated after he did not reprimand department personnel who refused the Orange County’s mandated COVID-19 vaccine.

He later filed a lawsuit against the county for wrongful termination and also has written a book about his experience.

“History has now proven Orange County was wrong to mandate the so-called vaccine,” Davis said. “It did not stop the spread. Worse, Commissioner Nicole Wilson ridiculed and showed disdain for the firefighters who refused it. That’s why I’m running — to make sure this issue does not go away.

“During the Sept. 28, 2021, commission meeting, Wilson sarcastically questioned how the firefighters who refused the shot could refer to themselves as a ‘public servant,’ and she voiced disappointment they couldn’t be liable for a potential wrongful death suit,” he said. “I am standing against her as the Never Wilson candidate. You do not attack firefighters and get away with it.”

In response to Davis' assertions, Wilson said, "Our decisions as a board amid a global pandemic were to preserve life and protect the vulnerable."

Regarding Davis' candidacy, Wilson said she faced a similar situation when she ran for the seat in 2020. That year, she faced then-incumbent Betsy VanderLey, and Hannah Burns entered the race in July 2020 as a write-in candidate

Burns is the stepdaughter of S. Scott Boyd, who preceded VanderLey as District 1 commissioner.

"As someone who faced a sham write-in candidate in 2020, I am concerned that this is more of the same type of voter manipulation," she said. "A strong democracy requires people to come out of the shadows and put all the facts before the voters to let them make informed decisions. My question to any last-minute write-in candidate would be why didn't they want their actual name to appear on the ballot? If this individual was critical of board policies dating back to 2020-2021, then they certainly had time to qualify with the full filing requirements."

Before announcing his candidacy, Davis supported Arthur's campaign for the seat.

“Chief Davis is a friend and was a supporter of our campaign," Arthur said. "He called me a couple of days ago, telling me he wanted to jump into the election as a candidate to shed light on Wilson’s treatment of firefighters. As a former firefighter paramedic myself, I do not blame him. We are staying focused on our own campaign, but this is an issue I feel Wilson must address. I will always stand by our firefighters, police, correctional officers and other first responders. Period.” 

Davis is a husband and father of two. 

For more information, visit



Michael Eng

As a child, Editor and Publisher Michael Eng collected front pages of the Kansas City Star during Operation Desert Storm, so it was a foregone conclusion that he would pursue a career in journalism. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his wife and three children, or playing drums around town. He’s also a sucker for dad jokes.

Latest News