Seven Candidates Qualify for Suspended Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill’s Seat

Seven prominent figures in Orlando politics have officially entered the race to fill the seat left vacant by the suspended Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill. The special election scheduled for 21st May will see Erika Dunlap, Tiakeysha Ellison, Lawanna Gelzer, Cameron Hope, Travaris McCurdy, Miles Mulrain, and Shaniqua “Shan” Rose compete for the esteemed position.

Meet the Candidates

All the candidates are well-known entities in the Orlando political scene, each bringing a unique perspective and focus. Civil rights advocate, Lawanna Gelzer, is no stranger to the political race, having narrowly lost an Orange County Commission race to Michael Scott in 2022 by 656 votes out of over 33,000. Gelzer has remained active in city and county issues, with a particular focus on police brutality.

Erika Dunlap, the first Black Miss Florida in 2003 and Miss America winner, is currently the CEO of Crown Comm Group. Dunlap is renowned for her thought leadership on issues such as self-care, etiquette, diversity and inclusion, and cultural competency.

Tiakeysha Ellison, a business coach, announced her candidacy on Facebook and intends to focus on entrepreneurship, education, and economic development.

More About the Candidates

Cameron Hope is a strategic manager and financial tax advisor at First Hope Financial, where he has served as CEO since 2020. Known for his work in event promotion in Central Florida, Hope also works as a marketing manager for Research Marketing Group.

Travaris McCurdy, a former state Representative, is no stranger to the ballot. He won a single term in the Legislature unopposed in 2020, but in 2022 lost a Democratic Primary to now-Rep. Bruce Antone by just over one percentage point.

Activist Miles Mulrain, a lead at Black Orlando United and Equal Justice USA, is known for his work in combating gun violence in the city. He also founded a community forum series called Let Your Voices Be Heard. Shaniqua “Shan” Rose is the current executive director for the Eatonville Community Redevelopment Agency.

The Race to Replace Regina Hill

The seven candidates were the only ones listed as qualified as of the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday, though 11 candidates initially filed for the seat. Former candidates Moliere Dimanche, Ricardo Griffin, Cocoa King, and Toni Smith did not make the final cut, with King formally withdrawing.

The seat became vacant after Hill was arrested on charges of elderly exploitation and fraud in March. After serving on the Commission for 10 years, Hill was charged with three counts of elderly exploitation of more than $50,000, one count of scheming to defraud of more than $50,000, one count of mortgage fraud of more than $100,000 and one count of fraudulent use of personal identification of more than $100,000.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted a 13-month investigation into Hill, who is alleged to have taken advantage of a 96-year-old resident, drawing down $100,000 from her account for personal expenses.

The upcoming special election promises to be a compelling race, with each candidate aiming to make a difference in a community shaken by the scandal surrounding the former commissioner.

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