Politics

Florida Mayor, Elected to Office in 1949, Finally Defeated

April 16, 2014

By Stephen Hudak

Apopka voters decided that it was finally time for a change.

After a historic run by 93-year-old Mayor John Land, they chose a new direction in the name of Joe Kilsheimer, 56, who campaigned on the need for younger, more energetic leadership in a city that had fallen short of its potential.

Land has served as chief executive of Apopka, which means "potato eating place" in a Seminole language, for all but three years since 1949. But he faced a tough opponent who ran an aggressive campaign, relentlessly canvassing voters door to door and pounding home the message that Apopka needed a new direction.

In admitting defeat, Land told supporters, "I love Apopka still, but I'll probably have a broken heart."

The mayor said he was "too old to cry" but hurt too much to laugh. He then flashed back to his days as a soldier under Gen. George Patton during World War II.

"I think about old Gen. Patton — I served in his Army," Land said. "He had a saying: 'I wouldn't give two hoots in hell for someone who lost and laughed about it.' That's how I feel."

Kilsheimer, a former city commissioner, captured 54% of the vote to Land's 46% in the most expensive election in Apopka's history. The mayor spent nearly $100,000, to Kilsheimer's $40,000.

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