top of page
Oakland Politics

Oakland’s open Seat 3 draws 13 applicants

Instant Photo Poster
Andrea Charur


Friday, April 5, 2024


Paul Morrison/VoxPopuli

Applicants for Oakland's open Seat 3 on the town commission come from a variety of fields from construction, insurance and defense to law, science, banking and healthcare.

The Town of Oakland Wednesday posted the list of applicants for the commission’s open Seat 3. In all, 13 people applied for the seat that former Commissioner Sal Ramos vacated to run unsuccessfully for mayor — including Ramos himself. Six are women.

The list was included in the agenda packet for the April 9 town commission workshop and meeting where applicants will be vetted before a final selection. The workshop is at 6 p.m. with the regular commission meeting at 7 p.m. Both are open to the public.

The call for applications was posted March 27 on the town’s Facebook page: “If you're passionate about making a difference in our community and meet the requirements, we encourage you to apply!” the post said. The deadline was April 1 at 5 p.m.

“That was the greatest news to wake up to this morning, to see all of the fresh faces who want to get a seat at the table,” Anne Fulton, who submitted an application as well, said in a phone interview.

The irony is that the town commission is engaged in this application process because the open seat attracted no takers during the December election qualifying period. Now the seat, which officially became vacant on March 12, must be filled by April 9 or Gov. Ron DeSantis will make the appointment.

Filling a commission seat by application, rather than election or nomination by commission members, is a first for Oakland. Mayor Shane Taylor instituted the novel approach in one of his first official acts after being sworn in on March 26.

It’s unclear what the commission will be looking for as they vet and score the applicants who come from an array of professions from the construction, insurance, defense and aerospace/aeronautics industries to those working in law, science and healthcare.

The only criterion is 12-months residency in Oakland, although the application had no area to indicate how long one had lived in Oakland, and it’s not yet known how that will be verified.

“The process will be up to the commission so they can narrow down the applicants in the work session, or they can also carry the discussion into the regular meeting and then narrow the applicants down further,” Elise Hui, town clerk/assistant town manager, said in an email. “No official vote can be taken during a work session so whatever occurs, they will have to take the final action in the regular meeting.”

Meanwhile, here’s what we know from interviews and applications:

Sal Ramos

The former Seat 3 commissioner applied to retake his seat. Ramos was appointed to the commission in 2015 and then elected in 2016 when he ran unopposed. During the mayoral race, at a Feb. 22 meet-and-greet, he said if he lost, he would go back to Seat 3 if the commission chose him. Despite Ramos’ experience, after the divisive election season, Oaklanders are clamoring for new blood on the board.

Anne Fulton

Fulton gained local attention after video circulated of former Mayor Kathy Stark yelling at her to stop speaking at a commission meeting. Fulton had tried to request that the commission reevaluate the town comprehensive plan with more buy-in from residents. (After Shane Taylor was sworn in, she made her request again.) Since then, residents have rallied around her “to help Shane be the change we all said we wanted.” Fulton jokes that she has an “old lady fan club.”

A licensed insurance adjuster and office manager for AMA Settlement Services Inc., Fulton is the founder of The Oakland Society, a nonprofit that addresses community needs. She’s served on several parent-teacher-student organizations and school advisory committees, raised funds for student programs and volunteered at Oakland Avenue Charter School (OACS). In a separate letter to the commission, she noted her “passion for service.”

“What I care about most is giving citizens a voice,” Fulton told VoxPopuli. “I feel that with the existing commission, they appear to be dismissive of what the citizens have to say.”

Edward Kulakowski

Kulakowski is a familiar presence at Oakland town commission meetings where he has opposed additional expenditures to dredge sand on two Oakland residents’ properties affected by drifting sediment from the Johns Lake Outfall Canal.

“I want us to spend our public money in a way that benefits the majority of citizens,” Kulakowski told VoxPopuli.

Prior to retiring, Kulakowski was vice president of OT Training Solutions, which provides training simuators for U.S. and foreign militaries, and his resume notes that he is “skilled at interfacing with government entities and with evaluating benefits and risks of complex projects.” Before moving to Oakland, he participated in Leadership Tampa Bay, a forum for residents to discuss regional issues and provide solutions. 

In Oakland, according to his application, he chaired the town’s Waste Disposal Contract Review Committee and was vice chair for the Southern Oaks at Oakland Shores homeowners association from 2015 to 2023. He stepped down because he favors term limits and wanted a new person on the board.

“We need some new ideas in that community, in my community. I think the same thing holds true for the town at large,” Kulakowski said.

Clayton Louis Ferrara

Ferrara, who moved to Oakland in 2020, is a biologist and chief executive officer of IDEAS For Us, a nonprofit environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He also serves as an NGO representative for the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs NGO Branch.

With funding from a two-year grant, Ferrara said he assisted Oakland Nature Preserve founder Jim Thomas in building the preserve’s programs, displays and revenue models.

“Some of my scope is very big in my UN-related stuff,” Ferrara told VoxPopuli. “And then it can become progressively smaller all the way to my own home and my own town.”

Ferrara is also a member of the Winter Park Land Trust Board of Trustees and a fellow at the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity at UCF. In his application’s civic engagement section, he noted that he serves on Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s GreenWorks Task Force. He previously served as a member of Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings' Sustainability Task Force and the Orange County Development Advisory Board. He provides consulting services to those starting nonprofits through his firm Protégé Solutions Nonprofit Solutions.

Kristin Keller

With nearly 30 years in the construction business, Keller is a national senior care specialist at Forbo Flooring Systems, which serves a variety of industries. She is a member of the Longleaf at Oakland HOA Finance Committee and has served on the committees and boards for the Building Owners and Managers Association, Commercial Real Estate Women Orlando, Downtown Orlando Partnership, International Interior Design Association and Associated Builders and Contractors.

“I have an abundance of common sense, the ability to see the big picture and how
each smaller decision and/or process impacts the larger objective,” she wrote on her application.

Scott Gordon

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran with a masters degree in project management from Boston University, Gordon leads the Business Area Affordability Team as a price analysis senior manager at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems. Previously, he was a contract negotiator at  Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. His resume notes that he has  “active top secret” clearance, including access to federal government sensitive information.

Gordon also serves on the board for One Kin Roof, a nonprofit that works to make neighborhoods more accessible to people with disabilities, and volunteers with American Corporate Partners, which helps veterans integrate into the workforce.

Todd Tice

A sales professional in the industrial/commercial HVAC, mechanical, plumbing and construction industries, Tice has served on the Architectural Review Board at Johns Landing since 2005 and is a member of the University of Central Florida Knight’s Club board of directors. Under special skills he noted, “marketing, sales, common sense.”

Nancy Furches

A branch manager at MTH Mortgage-Meritage Homes, Furches also serves as vice president and treasurer of the Oakland Avenue Charter School Parent Teacher Organization.

Emma Bell

Bell is a sustainability engineer at APTIM, providing data on the energy, carbon emissions, water and waste of sports venues. At APTIM, she’s also worked with developers to reduce indoor water consumption and improve energy efficiency. She documents hazardous waste for federal, state and municipal governments. From 2017 to 2020, she served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at the University of South Carolina.

Trillshun Bacon

Bacon is a supply chief for the U.S. Navy and has served in the Navy’s leadership for 24 years. He has a Military Outstanding Volunteer Medal, awarded for substantial volunteer service. His application says he’s completed more than 1,000 community service hours.

Yumeko L. Motley

A graduate of Florida A&M University College of Law, Motley works as a litigation attorney at American Integrity Insurance. She is the communications committee chair for the Florida Bar Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and a board member of the National African-American Insurance Association of Florida. She is a founding board member of HBCU I.M.P.A.C.T., which works to educate and employ the next generation of Black professionals in the insurance, financial services and legal fields. She volunteers at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.

On her application, Motley said that she has “extensive experience in various board positions, utilizing my legal background in the interpretation of current local rules, regulations and State laws to advocate for and effectuate policy change, specifically within the landscape of the Florida insurance industry.”

Adam John Messervey

Messervey is a field support engineer at Lockheed Martin, working “with [the] U.S. and partner countries on advanced fighter aircraft.” Prior to that, he mentored airmen in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years. He said on his application that he’s not connected with any community and civic organizations in Oakland, but he “would like to use this opportunity to become more involved in this community.”

Teri Hamlin

A registered nurse who now works in case management at United Healthcare, Hamlin is also president of the Trailside Station HOA. From 2005 to 2007, she volunteered as a school nurse at Oakland Avenue Charter School.

bottom of page