Debate held between Apopka's 93-year-old mayor and candidates



APOPKA, Fla. - Apopka's 93-year-old mayor is debating the candidates trying to take his position Monday evening.

John Land, 93, has been mayor of Apopka for 61 years, nearly continuously. Land is one of the longest serving mayors in the country.

It's is the first time in 12 years that he has run into opposition and he told WFTV he's not finished being mayor. A debate was held Monday between Land and the other candidates.

Land took office in 1949, when he just 29. He said the city was a different place then.

"In 1949, 2,254 people and a budget of $31,000. With that kind of budget, it's hard to do anything, but we did put in first-class garbage pickup," Land told WFTV reporter Lori Brown before the debate.

Even though the city has grown to be the second largest in Orange County with 44,000 people, Land insists he's still the right man for the job.

"We're now poised for great things to happen in Apopka," Land said.

But his three opponents think the city needs someone younger with fresh ideas.

"I think it's an impossible job for someone in their 90s. I think what's happening is that Mayor Land is a wonderful man, extraordinarily friendly, but not really in charge of the city," mayoral candidate Glen Chancy said.

"Being mentally able is one thing, physically able... I don't believe he's physically able to lead this city," another candidate, Gregg Phillips said.

The opponents have their own changes they would like to see in Apopka.

"There's a lack of shopping and dining options in Apopka," mayoral candidate Joe Kilsheimer said.

"My goal is to make Apopka a destination, right now we are a speed bump between Altamonte Springs and Mount Dora," Phillips said.

Land has a history of putting up a good fight for the mayoral position. After 16 elections, he's only lost one. Land said he's not running for the money, as he stopped accepting his $157,000 salary in 2008.