A political meet-and-greet will take place in conjunction with the grand opening of a new hotel, a development that marks the completion of phase 1 of the city center, a public-private mixed-use development.
The annual Apopka Area Political Hob Nob and Straw Poll will take place on Saturday, July 25, at 9 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Apopka City Center, 580 E. Main St., Apopka. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held outside rain or shine under the shade of trees.
The hob nob and straw poll will follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that include the proper social distancing required for hosting the community event.
Organized by the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce, the event is an opportunity for community members to meet local, state, and national candidates while discussing important campaign issues and voting in a straw poll.
Many offices are up for grabs this year. A key local race is the Florida Legislature representative for District 31, of which much of northern Apopka is a part. State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan is retiring from office, so candidates are lining up to replace her.
“That’s a very important race for our community because they do represent our voice in Tallahassee in the state House,” said Apopka Chamber President Robert Agrusa.
Other elections this year include: Orange County sheriff, for which incumbent John W. Mina is again running; Orange County property appraiser, for which incumbent Rick Singh is campaigning; circuit and county judges; and state attorney.
Agrusa believes there will be “a lot of interest” in the judges’ races.
“I think in light of the last month or so, talking about change and that many voices are being heard, this is a great opportunity to have an input in our criminal justice system,” Agrusa said.
The Hilton Garden Inn’s development marks the end of phase 1 for the Apopka City Center, a 34-acre mixed-use establishment for restaurants, retail, office space, hotel, and multi-family apartment units at the intersection of U.S. Highway 441 and State Road 436 in Apopka.
The project is a public-private partnership between the city of Apopka and Taurus Investment Holdings.
Public roadway improvements included 3/4-mile of Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) roadway widening, turn-lane improvements, and two new traffic signals. Nearly 1/2-mile of city street improvements, including a new roundabout, were also finished.
The Hilton Garden Inn has 118 rooms, four stories, and was designed with the option to create up to four two-room bridal or executive suites. The hotel was due for a grand opening this past spring, but the pandemic caused its delay.
“That’s kind of what we envisioned with this hob nob, so it’s very unique for any hob nob quite frankly in our communities across Central Florida because we kind of tie in that private sector development component of Apopka and its growth, and the constant change we’re seeing in the last several years and bringing together with our elected officials or those that are hoping to serve in public office as well,” Agrusa said.
Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles will administer the straw poll, where people will give input about who they think is best prepared for each race and candidates will get feedback. Everyone will be eligible to vote in all races during the straw poll. Results will be announced at the close of the event.
For the first time, the event will be free to help the community be as educated as possible on political issues and candidates, and to better abide by the coronavirus health and safety guidelines. There will be mask distribution at the event and to encourage social distancing, tables will be spaced out and lines will form and flow in one direction for guest to meet candidates.
For information, visit the Chamber’s website at www.apopkachamber.org.