Winter Park elects its 1st Black city commissioner since 1893

WINTER PARK, Fla. — The Winter Park City Commission is taking the first step toward getting representation for a historic Black neighborhood among its ranks.


On April 24, Craig Russell will be sworn in as the newest Winter Park City commissioner.

Russell won 50.3% of the vote over opponent Jason Johnson for seat 2.

Russell -- a teacher, coach and mentor at Winter Park High School -- serves on the Winter Park Library Board and the city of Winter Park’s Parks and Recreation Board.

He and his wife, Kate Demory, created Army of Angels, a nonprofit dedicated to serving as the link between those in the community who want to help and those who need support.

Read: Winter Park’s first female mayor talks to WFTV about the city’s future

Russell broke a barrier Tuesday by becoming the first African American to be elected city commissioner since 1893.

“I get chills just hearing it being told to me,” Russell said. “It’s something that I’m so humbled to be in the history books. I’m so humbled to be the face of change. I’m so humbled to break that barrier down.”

During an sit-down interview with Channel 9 on Wednesday, Russell said that his constituents can expect him to be a listening ear, and they will see that he is “just himself.”

Hannibal Square, which is just west of the city’s center, is a predominately Black neighborhood.

Read: Winter Park homes sell for combined $18.95M

Russell said that his new position will allow him to bring a diverse perspective to the city.

“They can expect to see from me for me to be me,” he said. “No puppet strings. Nobody in my ear, and nobody telling me what to do or say.”

Russell will complete Sheila DeCiccio’s city commissioner term. She resigned to run for Winter Park mayor and won that race last month.

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