City of Orlando District 5 Candidate Conversation Forum


On August 24, 2017, at the Callahan Neighborhood Center, there was a District 5 Candidate Forum, where incumbent commissioner Regina Hill and five candidates discussed how they would improve the quality of life in the community. From the very beginning of the forum until the end, the questions were well thought out and the answers were diverse, intelligent, and articulate.

The five candidates challenging the incumbent were Jibreel Ali, Erica Dunlap, Sarah Elbadri, Betty Gelzer, and Cynthia Harris. The host of the evening was Rev/Dr Robert Sponney of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church, and he was engaging, well informed, serious, funny, and organized. His questions were excellent, and the rules of the forum were strictly enforced.

The forum was jointly organized by Ann Brown, President of the Callahan Neighborhood Association Inc., and Vinnie Cannady, President of the Carter Street Neighborhood Association. Both presidents have lived in their communities for over sixty years, and as lifelong residents, their pride and sentiments were displayed in the organization of the forum.

There were a diverse number of issues discussed such as economic development, gentrification, crime, housing, education, transportation, downtown, and the treatment of the Black community. Commissioner Hill is the incumbent and it was obvious from the start of the forum, that she is standing on her record, and extremely proud of her achievements. This campaign and contest will go down to the wire.

In Sarah Elbadri’s closing statements, she talked about earning the residents’ vote and believing that district 5 can prosper with the correct policies. Erica Dunlap is promoting three “ED’s’; 1, economic development, 2, education development, and 3, environmental development, and taking district 5 to the next level. Jibreel Ali is a man of action, and comes from a powerful legacy of leaders in Orlando, and will focus on strong leadership. The last challenger is Ms. Betty Gelzer, and in her summation, she talked about being super-qualified, and she was the senior citizen of the group.

Finally, there was Commissioner Hill, whose mantra is work and the work speaks for itself. Her achievements have been many, such as youth job training, over 300 kids’ summer jobs, new homes for residents, and technical training for residents.

Everyone that attended this forum was proud of the level of commitment and integrity of each candidate. Each candidate has a responsibility that district 5 receive the same resources, that every other district in the city is afforded.  Whoever receives the most votes must be a strong and engaged leader, and make a commitment to improve the lives of all the residents.

The next candidate forum district 5, 9-21, 2017 at the Frontline Outreach.