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We Are Winter Garden
Vote 2024

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WOCC Hob Nob and Straw Poll

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This bi-annual event lets you influence your community. Participants in the West Orange Chamber's Hob Nob & Straw Poll will impact the county's future. Want to hear their views on key issues before the General Elections? Here's your chance! The Hob Nob Straw Poll isn't just a test for the General Election; it's where you can find the candidate deserving of your vote.

Candidates

Candidate for Orange County Commissioner, Austin Arthur is an entrepreneur, an employer, a community advocate, and a former firefighter/paramedic. He and his brother founded Gymnastics USA, Florida’s largest gymnastics center, and also run Stars and Stripes Marketing Services, a full-stack marketing firm. Austin serves on multiple boards and charities, including Winter Garden Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board, West Orange Habitat for Humanity, Challenge 22 to End Veteran Suicide, Central Florida YMCA, West Orange Scholarship Foundation, Eight Waves Children and Family Services, and others. Austin and his wife live in Winter Garden and have three young children.

 

As a successful entrepreneur who has created hundreds of jobs in Orange County, Austin will be the common sense, pro-jobs, pro-economic growth commissioner who will also prioritize safe neighborhoods, infrastructure and preserving our natural environment. Austin is running for District 1 Orange County Commissioner which represents the west side of Orange County.

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Bowen Kou arrived in America at the age of 19, equipped with nothing but the clothes on his back and a dream. His academic journey led him to Michigan State University. During a summer break, Kou returned to China to visit his family, bringing along an American Bible as a gift for his Christian grandmother. This act, however, resulted in both Kou and his grandmother's arrest, leading to a harrowing two-week jail stay before their release on bail.

Facing persecution, Kou was advised by his parents to leave China permanently, with their parting words, "Do Not Return," leaving a profound impact on him. He has since not returned to China, viewing his residence in America as a necessary sacrifice for his freedom.

Kou's entrepreneurial journey in America started with buying and selling textbooks, a venture he later sold to purchase his first grocery store, initially employing three people. Over time, Kou expanded his business, now owning nine grocery stores and providing livelihoods for more than 500 families. Bowen Kou's story is a testament to the opportunities and freedoms offered by America, showcasing his resilience and entrepreneurial spirit.

Nicole Wilson – Lawyer, Environmentalist and Mom

As a licensed attorney, Commissioner Nicole Wilson works in the public interest and has helped individuals and non-profit environmental organizations navigate local, state and federal laws. Nicole believes that equal rights for all people must be defended and is committed to working on behalf of the underserved members of our community.

Nicole was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and moved to Central Florida over 20 years ago. Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Services from Mercer University, and law degree from Barry University School of Law. Her legal studies included a concentration on environmental and Earth law, and she gained practice experience in Barry Law’s Environmental and Earth Law Clinic and Advanced Clinic she went on to be named Associate Editor of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal and was awarded an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law.

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Kyle was raised by Public Educators (Roger & Christine Goudy) who have a collective 65+ years of experience. Kyle was a product of Public Education, attending K-12 Public School and eventually graduating from the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Kyle has always been an advocate of teachers and the public education system.

 

That being said, he is worried about the direction that education is heading. With his daughter Lilly entering the OCPS system, he decided it was time to take action. We believe that with common sense policies and hard work we can help restore our Orange County Education System.

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As a candidate for the Orange County School Board’s District 4 seat, Jake Petroski is excited and optimistic about the future of public education in our community. Jake is the only candidate to have years of classroom experience and two children currently enrolled in OCPS Schools. He understands first-hand how school leadership impacts both classrooms and living rooms in our community. As a former public school teacher, graduate of Leadership Orange, and School Advisory Council member, Jake is ready to serve our students, teachers, and community. He is proud to be endorsed by The Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, which represents over 14,000 of our amazing teachers.

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