District 6: A split for Page? 

Ernest Page is defending his council seat a third time in the District 6 election. This time he's up against two no-name opponents with good ideas but little chance of winning.

Challenger No. 1 is Lawanna Gelzer, 41, who ran unsuccessfully against Daisy Lynum in the 2000 election.

A native Floridian who has called Orlando home since 1971, the Edgewater High and Rollins College graduate now works as a mortgage broker and owns her own business as a finance consultant for nonprofit organizations. Gelzer moved to District 6 from Parramore in 2002, to build a home.

Gelzer boasts a history of involvement in community service projects, and claims that volunteering in the community has not only vested her in its people, but also given her a clear idea of their needs.

"Neighborhood meetings have brought up issues of traffic management and enforcement, low home ownership and economic diversity within the district," she says. "I cannot solve every problem alone, but I can steer people in the proper direction." If elected, she promises to set up an office in the district so constituents can find her easily.

Marcus Robinson, 32, is challenger No. 2. Robinson, an Orlando native and graduate of Jones High School and Valencia Community College, is an Army veteran who was stationed in Germany during the Gulf War. He currently works at Ocwen Federal Bank in Research Park, and is running because he thinks "it's time for a change."

Robinson has no political experience. What he does have is a five-point agenda that he says addresses the needs of the district. If elected, he says he'll create a district advisory committee, and an economic development committee specific to the district.

He also wants to create district police precincts and a department of senior citizen affairs. He's also promised to take weekly community walks.

"The number one concern of people I talked to in the district was that Page hasn't been accessible," says Robinson. "I'm making accessibility mandatory. I'm talking about doing a community walk in a different neighborhood each week, to actually get out and see some of the problems of the district. That's unprecedented."

Accessibility is a concern among District 6 voters.

"He's `Page` been here for years, but he's not accessible," says Tasha Sawyer, who lives in a home near MetroWest in southwest Orlando.

Sawyer isn't planning on supporting Page, but she doesn't know which of the challengers she will support -- which is a big reason why Page will most likely claim his seat for a third time. The two challengers have campaigned hard in the district, walking neighborhoods and speaking to neighborhood associations, but the candidates will likely split the anti-Page vote. If he's very unlucky, Page won't garner enough votes to avoid a runoff. (He won re-election in 2000 by just 182 votes.)

Page was originally elected to District 6 City Council in 1980, but lost his seat when he was arrested in 1983 for purchasing stolen property during an undercover police operation. He spent eight months in jail, and upon his release was quoted by the Orlando Sentinel as saying, "Who wants to be a commissioner, anyway? That's a dodo job. I just wanted to do one term and get the hell out."

Not the first time that a politician has said one thing and done another. Still, name recognition counts, and Page has it.

More by Emily Ruff


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