Apopka Gets New Leadership

Apopka's newly sworn council members (from left) Billie Dean,
Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Diane Velázquez and Sam Ruth. /photos by Maria Padilla
María T. Padilla

APOPKA – It was a day filled with choked-backed tears here as the first new mayor in nearly 60 years and the first Hispanic councilwoman were sworn into office in front of a jam-packed audience at the city's community center.

Joe Kilsheimer and Diane Velázquez, along with Sam Ruth, are the new faces of the Apopka City Council. Although he didn't attend the ceremony, the shadow of nonagenarian ex Mayor John Land, who ran the city for 57 years and lost to the younger upstart Kilsheimer, was lurking in the background.

"Mayor Land has left some big shoes to fill," Kilsheimer, 55, said after being sworn in. Then he promised that "we can make it so that Apopka's future flows from its history."


Profile: James Auffant Running for Orange County Clerk of the Court

María T. Padilla

This week's candidate profile is James Auffant, who is running for Orange County Clerk of the Court. 
James Auffant
Auffant, who has lived in Orlando for more than three decades, has his own law firm in Orlando. A  Democrat, Auffant also serves as secretary of the Florida Democratic Party. 

He is a contender in the Democratic primary, running against Tiffany Moore Russell, who is currently Orange County commissioner for District 6. Pedro Malaret is also in the race.

The winner of the August 26 primary takes on Eddie Fernández, who was appointed this year by Gov. Rick Scott to finish the term of Lydia Gardner, who died last year. Fernández is the first Hispanic to fill the Orange County post.

Both Auffant and Fernández are Puerto Rican. 


Tu Revista Mujer Honors 11 Women

Tu Revista Mujer recently honored 11  professional Hispanic women
for their contributions to the community. / photo by Dilia Castillo

Tu Revista Mujer recently honored 11 Hispanic women who are professionals, businesswomen and leaders in the Central Florida community. It was the fifth annual year that Tu Revista Mujer, a health and quality of life magazine, honored local Hispanic women.

The recognitions were awarded in  El Bodegón restaurant in  Winter Park, where the honored women spoke of their successes, sacrifices and contributions to the local economy and their families. 

In the photo, from left, Josephine Mercado, Dra. María Miller, Millie Caballero, Patricia Pichardo, Olga Chuchin, Emma García, Jackie Méndez (president of  Tu Revista Mujer), Dra. Maritza De Jesús, Sonia Mooney, Sylvette Santos, Sharon Miranda y María M. Londoño.


The Importance of Márquez to the Latino Experience

María T. Padilla

If it weren't for Gabriel García Márquez, I wouldn't be the Latina I am today.

The Colombian writer, who died Thursday at age 87 in Mexico, gave me, a Hispanic born in the United States, the gift of self identity.  I always knew I was puertorriqueña but Márquez put my Latino-ness into context, he put a stamp on it.

Portrait of the writer Gabriel García Márquez as a young man
Because when you grow up as "other" in the United States, you really don't have a clear image of who you are and where you come from.  And everyone –from well-meaning teachers to friends, family and acquaintances– wants to help define you, making of your persona this malleable thing, when it ought not to be. ¿Y tú quién eres?

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude as a young adult was a gamechanger.  Where had Márquez been all my life? Márquez – I can't call him Gabo without feeling self concious– gave me Macondo, a place that contained some of Puerto Rico, some of New York, some of everything I knew and had experienced. Except it didn't have a name, until then.


Central Florida Briefs

The legendary salsa crooner Cheo Feliciano

María T. Padilla

Singer Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Accident 

El Nuevo Día and other media in Puerto Rico are reporting the death of salsa singing legend Cheo Feliciano in a car accident on the way home after a night at a San Juan casino. According to police at the scene, Feliciano crossed the median onto oncoming traffic and hit an electricity post.  The singer, whose fan base spanned generations and countries,  was not wearing a seat belt and his head impacted the front windshield. 

He was 78 years old. 

"Papi es para toda la vida, porque nos ha dejado su música, su corazón, a su pueblo, a su gente... 'Familia', como decía papi. Gracias a Dios, tenemos su música para recordarlo", said his son José Enrique, as reported in El Nuevo Día. (Papi is for all times because he has left his music, his heart, to the public, his people. 'Family,' as Papi would say. Thank God we have his music to remember him by.)