"Having communications face-to-face in real time with real people, it feels so much more connected than being downtown," said Orange County Commissioner Nicole Wilson, who hosted her first office hours session in Winter Garden Sept. 22, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. She aims to expand the initiative to other cities.

The commissioner is in

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By
Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Thursday, September 22, 2022

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Norine Dworkin

"Having communications face-to-face in real time with real people, it feels so much more connected than being downtown," said Orange County Commissioner Nicole Wilson, who hosted her first office hours session in Winter Garden Sept. 22, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. She aims to expand the initiative to other cities.

Nicole Wilson, Orange County Commissioner for District 1, sat at the end of a long table set up in the commission chambers at the Winter Garden City Hall, legal pad in front of her, occasionally making notes. Next to her, was senior legislative aide Hannah Gutner, her laptop open. It was 10:30 a.m., and they were well into their second meeting of the morning with constituents who had made appointments to meet with the commissioner during her in-person office hours. Appointments are made via emailing District1@ocfl.net.


Wilson’s office hours — which runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. — is a new initiative, meant to make it easier for constituents to get face time with the commissioner to discuss concerns. Each constituent gets 30 minutes of unhurried conversation.


“We need to come to the people, that’s clear to me,” Wilson said in an interview. “To be in my district with my district residents, having communications face to face in real time with real people, it feels so much more connected than being downtown.”


Paul Wean, an attorney and member of the Orange County Animal Services Advisory Board was sitting in the back row of the commission chambers. He said he was waiting to talk to Wilson about licensing backyard breeders and getting them to honor Florida’s lemon law for pets. Doing that, he said, would help control overcrowding in the shelter. “We’re getting a new shelter,” he said, “and I don’t want to see it overcrowded the moment it opens.”


Wilson told VoxPopuli that by mid-morning she’d also spoken with advocates for bike and pedestrian safety and a resident concerned about storm water and water quality issues. “And it’s only 11:30! This affirms what we knew: that we need to be in our district.”


Wilson said she wants to take her office hours on the road to other municipalities throughout her district, like Oakland, Windermere, Dr. Phillips, Hunter’s Creek, Horizon West and Williamsburg.


“I have a feeling that opening it up to anybody who wants to come that hasn’t been able to make it downtown or shouldn’t have to go downtown, we’ll fill that time.”

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