ORLANDO, Fla. – The growth of west Orange County led to the redrawing of a district in the Florida Legislature, and how voters decide on the race for its seat could be an interesting political indicator in the years to come.
The Horizon West area is a community just west of the Windermere town limits and south of Winter Garden city limits. It extends down to the Orange County southern border.
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According to the 2010 Census, the population of Horizon West was 14,000 people. In the 2020 Census, the population of Horizon West was 58,101 people.
State House District 45 includes the entire southwest side of Orange County, from State Road 50 in Winter Garden and Oakland down to the county border, plus the northwest corner of Osceola County.
That encompasses the entire Horizon West area, southern Winter Garden and the Bay Lake area where much of Walt Disney World resides.
The data the Florida Legislature used to draw this district shows an interesting history for this area. In 2012 and 2016, it was a solidly Republican area, breaking for Mitt Romney and Donald Trump for president, and Rick Scott for governor in 2014.
But in 2018, the majority of voters chose Democrats Andrew Gillum for governor and Nikki Fried for agricultural commissioner, while choosing Republicans Rick Scott for U.S. Senate, Ashley Moody for Florida attorney general and Jimmy Patronis for chief financial officer.
Then, in 2020, a majority of voters chose Joe Biden for president.
So will the voters in this district choose the Democrat, Allie Braswell, or the Republican, Carolina Amesty, to represent them in Tallahassee?
Let’s meet the candidates.
Carolina Amesty is executive vice president for Central Christian University, a private school founded by her father in 2003. It has 27 campuses worldwide and is sponsored by Council Missionary Church of God in Orlando.
Amesty leans on her Venezuelan background to explain her opposition to Democratic policies, saying the country is in trouble. She wants to push to further expand school vouchers and charter schools, and more tax and regulatory reform. She has the support of conservative stalwarts, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Allie Braswell is a retired Marine and vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for Vystar Credit Union. He is also chairperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office citizens advisory committee.
Braswell, if elected, wants to expand affordable housing through public-private partnerships and full fund the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. He wants to expand workforce training in trade professions, build climate resilient communities, reduce runoff into the state’s drinking water, raise teacher pay and keep class sizes small.
He also wants to partner with companies to create more job opportunities for veterans, and expand legal and financial services and benefits for them, along with reducing the number of homeless veterans.
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