Handicapping the Hors…er…Candidates in Orange County, Florida Part 2 County Races

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By Jerry Waxman

“De Camptown Ladies sing dis song, Doo-Dah! Doo-Dah! De Camptown Racetrack five miles long, Oh! Doo-Dah Day!”

 

The primary season certainly does feel like a long distance race with the finish line almost in sight. Everyone concerned is practically out of breath and sleepless as we come into the clubhouse turn before the home stretch. Today’s picks are going to center on the county races, all of which are very interesting. Again, I’ve gotten to know most of the participants if not all of them and aside from their political or professional personas they are a pretty likeable group of people. Maybe it’s because many of them bring their families to these events. So, get your race cards out and let’s begin>

 

Ninth District State Attorney

This is another of those multi county races that also includes Osceola County. I find Lawson Lamar to be one of the most erudite people I’ve ever met. We also have a lot in common; we’re approximately the same age and we both served in the US Army at the same time during the early years of the Vietnam era. He saw action there but I never left the US. I also find him to be a stimulating conversationalist. On the other hand Jeff Ashton is also a pretty pleasant fellow and I like talking to him as well, so what is all the contention about? It’s pretty simple. It’s called policy. Lamar has settled into a niche that is basically stagnant. It is pretty evident that the Casey Anthony trial was lost well before it was ever presented in court because of office policies and procedures. Until that policy is corrected the same thing could happen again. Jeff Ashton by a head. Lamar should retire and start a stud farm for future SAs and Sheriffs.

 

Supervisor of Elections

Bill Cowles has been Supervisor of Elections since 1996 and by all accounts he has done a very good job. His challenger, Dan Fanelli is looking for an opening to get into politics. Two years ago he was in the crowded field trying to get at Alan Grayson but lost out to Dan Webster. Now he has his sights on the SOE’s office because there’s rampant voter fraud going on right here in Orange County. His whole speech was about rampant fraud at the most recent Orange County Watch meeting, although when pressed for evidence he couldn’t produce any. Bill Cowles in the stretch with Fanelli wearing false colors.

 

Tax Collector

 

This is a loser every which way you look at it. There was a brief ray of sunshine when Rod Eddins was in the race, but you can’t run against an institution that’s been in place since 1964. Jim Duffy is giving it a valiant try and he knows that it’s strictly an uphill battle. Earl K. Wood needs to live until he’s 99 in order to assure an orderly transfer of power at the next election. If Earl dies before the 2014 elections Rick Scott gets to pick Rich Crotty which then politicizes the office, so, light a candle and say prayers for Earl every day. Earl K. Wood in a mudder’s finish. Jim Duffy also ran.

 

Property Appraiser

 

There is a genuine certified property appraiser in the race. No, it is not the current office holder, Bill Donegan. It’s Rick Singh, who in addition to being able to appraise property correctly pointed out that Donegan is needlessly spending a hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money per month on wasted rental office space. A third candidate, Pete Clarke got into trouble by claiming two homestead exemptions, which Donegan turned a blind eye to for too long a time. Rick Singh by two furlongs. Pick up the other two for the glue factory.

 

Sheriff

 

Jerry Demmings has been Sheriff for four years. John Tegg has been running for Sheriff for a lot longer. Mike Green is a former NYC police detective whose best assets are the pictures of him in uniform, which he will gladly show you at the drop of a hat. Green is in this race solely to siphon off votes from Demmings. Jerry Demmings in half a length. Tegg and Green are an entry and can be picked up for a $100.00 claim.

 

County Commission District 3

 

This is an extremely crowded field. This was the district that should have been the one Latino district in the county, although the Latino population is approximately 30% overall in the county. Well, Mayor Jacobs and Co. would have none of it, yet the district is still well populated with Latinos. Also, through a bit of skullduggery on the part of the Mayor and Governor Rick Scott the then district babysitter who was appointed to replace the convicted Mildred Fernandez, Lu Damiani was removed and replaced by an outsider, John Martinez, son of former US Senator Mel Martinez. Damiani, the Mayor’s anointed one is now the frontrunner against Scott Plakon’s heavily backed stooge, Eric Lasso. Throw into this a young progressive, Michael Aviles and a moderate Lydia Pisano and it makes a pretty good hodgepodge. The only two that aren’t wholly owned by dark money forces are Avilez and Pisano. Aviles by a nose. Pisano has many more winnable races to run. Put the others out to pasture.

 

County Commission District 5

 

This is a very interesting race. Incumbent Ted Edwards has missed an awful lot of votes because of conflicts of interest. He’s a successful businessman and good for him. I admire success. Gina Duncan is a long time Wells Fargo banker who has a heart and a soul. Gina wants to give back and do right for the district. Edwards can’t give back because every time he recuses himself one of his business interests benefits. Everyone on the commission, including Gina, will have a conflict once in a while, that’s only natural. As much as I dislike all the too big to fail banks my respect and admiration for Gina the person knows no bounds. Gina Duncan on a fast track. Edwards DNF.

 

Orange County School Board

 

The Orange County School Board with its two billion dollar annual budget is the most feckless, impotent and corrupt organization in the county. Half of the budget is a slush fund for the construction industry. Board chair Bill Sublette has two votes just in case there is a tie so the status quo is maintained. No other elected official in the entire country has that kind of power. The last thing this school board does is advocate for the kids and those who teach them. The only solution is to throw every incumbent out and start fresh. I don’t care who you vote for as long as it is not an incumbent. Flip a coin. Race cancelled.

 

“Gwine to run all night! Gwine to run all day! I’ll bet my money on de bob-tail nag, somebody bet on de bay!”

 

Whew! I’m glad it’s almost over.