Orange County’s first elected African-American clerk of courts wants to inspire others

Russell encourages people of color to get involved politically.

Tiffany Moore Russell, first elected African American Clerk of Courts in Orange County (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla – As the first elected African American Clerk of Courts in Orange County, Tiffany Moore Russell said her mission is to inspire others to dream big - all while she’s humbly serving in a position where no one has looked like her before.

Her win in 2014 also allowed her to break barriers as the first African-American female Clerk elected in the state of Florida. Russell was recently re-elected in Orange County after running unopposed.

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The wife and mother of two is no stranger to the league of firsts. She was also the youngest member of the Orange County Commission when she was elected back in 2006 where she served two terms.

The former commissioner said Black leaders like Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, U.S. Rep Val Demings, State Representative Geraldine Thompson and so many others have broken barriers, making it possible for people like her to dare to dream.

“When Jerry Demings won the sheriff’s race, it opened the doors. So, for the clerk’s race, it had been held by a white female for years,” Russell said. “It was this unspoken rule that African American candidates, black candidates, they ran for certain seats. We know what they are, city commission 5 and 6, District 6 on the Orange County, that one school board seat, that one state house seat, and that one senate seat -- and that one congressional seat, and you didn’t have constitutional officers that were held by people of color.”

Russell said she has not faced any racial challenges in her current role necessarily, but she has found herself having to prove that she’s right for the position, mostly because of her age.

“I am serving alongside other clerks that can be my parents, so having them wanting to respect this young African American female that I can lead an agency just like them, that has been the biggest challenge,” said Russell.

She said her success is in part thanks to people of color who have paved the way in the political arena.

“I’m hoping that people would start to see that it’s not our race, it’s our skillset and our ability to lead and serve is what we should be looking for in candidates,” Russell said. “It’s okay that we have the audacity to step into those communities that normally we weren’t welcomed into those political arena.”

Russell was also involved in getting more African Americans to the polls during the 2020 general election. She was one of the organizers of the Central Florida Vote Fest events that pushed to energize and engage more Black people and minorities to vote early.

She said she wants to remind minorities that every election matters, even local elections, and there should be consistent voter engagement year-round.

Russell was first elected as the Clerk of Courts in 2014 (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Russell said Vice President Kamala Harris has also been a huge inspiration.

“To me, her holding that seat says you can have the audacity to dream bigger than you’ve been told was your place,” Russell said. “To me, she represents the average young lady in this country.”

Russell is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and St. Mark AME Church in Orlando.

Russell said she doesn’t have any particular seat on the horizon that she’s looking to run for, but she’s currently serving in leadership on the clerk’s association statewide and plans to become its president in a couple of years.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.