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Ocoee clarifies that commissioner appointee can run in general election

Instant Photo Poster
By
Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

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Photo: Norine Dworkin/VoxPopuli

Ages Hart was only meant to serve on Ocoee's city commission for three months, but an extended commitment has him thinking he may want to serve longer.

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It was only meant to be a temp gig.


When the Ocoee City Commission appointed Ages Hart to fill the District 4 seat vacated by former Commissioner George Oliver III, commissioners were just looking for someone to keep the seat warm until one of the declared candidates —Nate Robertson or Oliver, attempting to reclaim his seat after losing the mayoral race — was elected in the June special election.


It was a three-month commitment, tops.


But then the June special election was rescheduled for next March during the presidential primary. And that temporary situation suddenly morphed into a full year.


That’s no doubt why District 2 Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen, on Tuesday suggested that Hart be allowed to run to represent District 4 come the municipal election in March.


"I just feel that we should not be holding him to that because we changed the dynamics of the situation,” Wilsen said, referring to the commission’s decision at the time not to appoint special election candidates to fill the District 4 seat so that no one candidate had an advantage.


City Attorney Scott Cookson agreed. “It was just a policy decision that we were not going to appoint anyone who has declared,” he explained. “You have every right to change policy."


He added that there was nothing to prevent Hart from running for the seat in the upcoming election. 


“I think it just needed to be clarified,” Wilsen said.


For this part, Hart, a pharmacist and pastor, said it would be an “honor to serve.”


“It’s something I would like to do,” he said in a brief interview with VoxPopuli, adding that he would be having longer discussions with his family before he made any announcements.  


But Hart emphasized he never viewed the temporary commissioner’s job as a stepping stone.


“I don’t want anybody to get the idea that I took this job to keep the job,” he said. He added that his goal in joining the commission had been to soothe the animosity that had plagued the Human Relations Diversity Board throughout 2022 and seeped into the municipal election. 


“I took the job to try to bring peace to the situation,” he said. “I was more shocked than anybody else when [the term] went from a few months to a year.”



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