Former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings announced her intention to run for Mayor of Orange County on Tuesday. Demings said that she decided to challenge Jacobs because she’s “not about representing the privileged few. It’s about representing everyone who lives and works in Orange County.”
In citing her reasons for running, Demings pointed out Jacobs’ failure to deliver on promises of running an open and ethical government, something that Mayor Jacobs refuted by saying that she looks forward to having an open discussion about the future of Orange County.
Jacobs continued her counterattack of Demings by saying that she “would not run for sheriff because I know I’m not qualified to be sheriff and I think qualification is an issue and it will be an issue in this race.”
While Jacobs may have a smug response to Demings characterization of her time in office, she shouldn’t take the former police chief’s run lightly.
In 2012, Demings ran for political office for the first time as she attempted to unseat Congressman Dan Webster. She didn’t win but the contest was so close, and bitter according to Webster, that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent over $1 million to help defeat Webster.
With her rookie run out of the way and an economic tomb of supporters in her pocket, can Demings really unseat the popular incumbent?
No political seat is un-winnable and Jacobs isn’t as popular as she used to be. As Demings alluded to in her announcement to run, Jacobs record on ethics isn’t exactly shiny.
Jacobs angered more than just Orange County Dems when she attempted to wash her hands of the paid sick time ballot measure. Then there’s “text gate” and her change of heart about the soccer stadium in Parramore. She isn’t a first time politician, so she should know that her record will be dissected with a fine tooth comb.
Still—Jacobs record and Demings attack of it aren’t really the issues that may get Demings elected. It’s what she said in her announcement about running to represent everyone that will resonate.
Will Demings talk more about the middle and working class? What about the poor and disenfranchised? Will she talk about improving the economic conditions for young people in the county? Remember when The Daily Beast ranked Orlando as the worst city for young adults?
I’m sure that Demings has wagons full of supporters ready to pull the lever in her favor come election day. But whether its Jacobs or Demings, we need to hear more about who will do more for working and lower class citizens.
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