By Rachel Christian
Tuesday night was full of tight races and prideful victories as Osceola County voters made their voices heard during the 2018 Florida primaries.
Both Democratic County Commission incumbent favorites Viviana Janer and Cheryl Grieb won their respective districts, with Janer cinching just over 60 percent of the vote and Grieb taking an even 60 percent. Janer will face current Kissimmee Commissioner and Republican Wanda Rentas as she makes a bid for District 2, and Grieb will square off against Republican Adam Mithelin to keep her District 4 seat.
Incumbent Jim Fisher won the closest local race of the night by a mere 50 votes against Lisandra Roman in Kissimmee City Commission Seat 4. The race was tight enough that Roman can request a re-count, but on Election Night, Fisher said he was grateful for all the support he received from Kissimmee residents.
“I’m proud to serve the city and I’m glad I got re-elected,” Fisher said after votes were tallied. “I’ll continue to do the best work I can possibly do.”
Fisher’s race is done but the other Kissimmee Commission spot for Seat 2 will head into November.
Local business owner Felix Ortiz surged past his three competitors Tuesday, snagging 45.8 percent of the vote. But it wasn’t enough to break a 51 percent majority needed to avoid a top-two run-off in November. Ortiz will face runner-up Andrew Jang who nabbed 19.6 percent of the vote. The two are vying for a spot left vacant by termed-out Rentas.
Political newcomer Teresa “Terry” Castillo won a close race to win the School Board district 1 seat being vacated by outgoing four-term member Jay Wheeler.
Castillo claimed 52.8 percent of the nearly 8,300 votes cast to defeat Shel Hart.
“Shel worked really hard as well, we ran a clean and cordial race,” Castillo said. “But we spent 14 months pounding the pavement and talking to teachers and parents. I’m really grateful for the support of our volunteers, and I’m ready to get to work.”
Her swearing-in is scheduled for Nov. 13.
Christine Alrendas won Osceola County Judge Group 1 with 21,273 votes and 52.76 percent.
Laura Shaffer earned 45 percent of the vote for Circuit Judge 9th Judicial Circuit Group 41.
To finish off judges’ races, Tom Young defeated opponent Joseph Hanes Davis for Circuit Judge 9th Judicial Circuit Group 26 with 21,812 votes and 55.5 percent.
State and Federal
In races with Tallahassee and Washington implications, Ron DeSantis, who polled at 57 percent statement in the gubernatorial primary, garnered 51 percent of the Osceola County Republican vote. On the Democratic side, Gwen Graham (29.5 percent) carried the county over statewide winner Andrew Gillum (25.5) and Phillip Levine (21).
Incumbent Darren Soto defeated Alan Grayson by more than a 2-to-1 margin locally in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives District 9 seat, and will face Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in the Nov. 6 general election. Gov. Rick Scott got 91 percent of the vote and, as expected, will face incumbent Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat.
Countywide, 43,690 primary ballots were cast out of 212,170 registered voters, for a 20.59 percent turnout.