Mayor picks early battle: Jose Alvarez files to run against Peggy Choudhry in 2020

It’s almost two years until the 2020 General Election, but politicians at every level – including in Osceola County – are already throwing their hats into the ring.  

Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez led the charge when he announced on Twitter Dec. 29 his vie for Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry’s district 1 seat. The two Democrats will now battle it out in the August primaries next year.

Alvarez’s announcement sparked a buzz in local politics.

Alvarez, who’s served as mayor since 2016, is midway through his second term on the City Commission and is term-limited from making another Kissimmee run in 2020.

It’s not surprising then for Alvarez to make a move and run somewhere else, but directly challenging incumbent Choudhry for her county seat did surprise some – including Choudhry herself.

“I honestly didn’t expect him to file so early or to go for my seat specifically,” said Choudhry who noted that the two other county commissioners up for re-election in 2020 have yet to announce plans to run. “It made a lot of people think I’m not seeking re-election, which is absolutely not the case.”

Choudhry filed her paperwork Jan. 4 and posted a video to social media soon after to clear up any “rumors” that she wasn’t seeking re-election.

Alvarez was unavailable for direct comment, but on Tuesday, he sent out a press release about his run.

“In my years serving the community, listening and working with others to build consensus has always been a priority of mine,” Alvarez stated in the release. “It is with great pride that I announce my candidacy to be the next Osceola County Commissioner for District 1.”

Both candidates have made solving Osceola County’s affordable housing crisis platform staples. Alvarez has also pushed for greater economic development opportunities at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport, and was a major proponent of the failed Florida Aviation Academy charter school, which was shut down by the district last month amid mismanagement allegations.

Choudhry has been a major supporter of homeless services and advocacy. Her proposals for a “one-stop community crisis center” proved to be popular with some constituents but failed to get off the ground due to a lack of support from fellow commissioners.

No Republicans have announced plans to file yet for district 1.

Although Choudhry and Alvarez both filed as Democrats, Alvarez ran on the Tea Party ticket in the 2010 race for Florida House of Representatives District 79.

Choudhry said she was registered as an independent before she made her Democratic run for County Commission in 2016.

The showdown between Alvarez and Choudhry is in the spotlight, but other politicians have also announced plans to run.  

Angela Eddy elected to Kissimmee City Commission in 2016, is now vying for Alvarez’s soon-to-be empty mayor seat.

Lisandra Roman, who has unsuccessfully run for several city seats in the past, also filed for seat 5, and Reginald Hardee has filed for Eady’s seat 3.

Marcos Marrero, head of the Osceola County Libertarian Party, filed to run for incumbent Brandon Arrington’s district 3 County Commission seat. Marrero ran a successful city campaign for Felix Ortiz in Kissimmee last year and an unsuccessful one for Anthony Busby in St. Cloud. Marrero is a Poinciana resident and plans to run on the Libertarian ticket. Arrington, who has held his district 3 seat since 2008, has yet to file for re-election.

Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson has also filed for re-election in 2020.