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Ocoee Election 2024

Ocoee's Hart won’t run in ’24, will run in ’25

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By
Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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Norine Dworkin/VoxPopuli

"I don’t have the time to get into it the way I want to," Hart said about running a campaign for 2024. He plans to run for District 4 Commissioner in 2025.

Ages Hart, Ocoee’s interim District 4 commissioner, announced Tuesday that he will not run in the March 19 municipal election to fill out the term of former Commissioner George Oliver III who vacated his seat to run unsuccessfully for mayor earlier this year.


The current District 4 term has one year remaining. The District 4 seat will be up for election again in 2025.


Hart said he will run for a four-year term in 2025.


A full-time pharmacist, pastor and the commission’s liaison to the Human Relations Diversity Board (HRDB), Hart said he doesn’t have the bandwidth to take on a campaign right now. He also has three daughters in college, including one about to head to medical school. His wife, Lori, who served as chair of the HRDB and made a run for the commission in 2021, is pursuing a PhD in mathematics.


“Right now I don’t have the time to get into it the way I want to,” Hart said in an interview after Tuesday’s commission meeting. “I’m either — this is a country term — whole hog or no hog. I gotta go in whole hog.”


Hart said his uncle, also a city commissioner, had long urged him to enter public service, and added that he would run in 2025 — this time with more knowledge of what the job entailed.


“It was like, Okay, go to Publix and get something, and Oh by the way, go to Tallahassee too. I never had a chance to pack a lunch,” he laughed.


Hart, who never misses an opportunity to express his gratitude for the opportunity to serve District 4 voters, was only meant to be a place-holder to ensure District 4 had representation for the three months between the March municipal election and a June 13 special election to elect Oliver’s replacement. But when he finally steps down after the upcoming municipal election, Hart will have spent a year on the commission. 


Election vulnerabilities, which surfaced during the last municipal election, prompted city leaders to call for a charter review commission to evaluate the city’s rule book. That commission recommended amendments, which will be voted on in the upcoming election, that will eliminate the issues by implementing background checks and residency requirements.


But the timing of the charter review commission required a shift in the special election date. Charter amendments have to be voted on during the next general city election, according to Rick Geller, a board-certified specialist in city, county and local government law, brought in by Ocoee officials to render a legal opinion. Geller is now Ocoee’s city attorney. With a general city election scheduled within 12 months of a commission vacancy, it was “difficult,” Geller said, to make the legal argument for holding the special election in June.


Hart told VoxPopuli he learned a lot on the dais. The hiatus, he said, gives him time “to get everything in place" to run in 2025. 

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