ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - One of the biggest races in Central Florida on Tuesday was for the position of Orange County Mayor, to replace outgoing Mayor Teresa Jacobs.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings is the projected winner in the race for Orange County Mayor. Demings led his nearest competitor, Orange County Commissioner Pete Clark, by a margin of three to one. Businessman Rob Panepinto trailed in third place.
This has been the most expensive mayoral primaries in Orange County ever, costing a total of $1.47 million for all three campaigns. More than half of that money has been spent by Demings.
Clarke late Tuesday evening thanked his supporters for being there for him and wished Demings good luck as mayor. He said the most challenging part of the race was raising money and being hampered by false accusations. With a little more money, he believes he would still have been in the race.
"It was very difficult. One of my opponents, they kept saying I was getting out, so I was hampered from the get go with a lot of false accusations, I was gonna get out I wasn't going to stay in so it did hurt. So with a little more money I think maybe we could have made a dent and still be standing tonight."
With four new people on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, he believes there will be challenges.
"You're gonna have three new commissioners and a new mayor and with the housing issues, growth issues, transportation issues, there's challenges many challenges. So they're gonna have their hands full and like I said, there's going to be four new people sitting up there. So we'll see how it goes."
Clarke said it has been "a blessing" to serve as county commissioner for the last six years. He plans to take his wife to Iceland for vacation and continue to stay active in the community.
The candidates ran on their experience serving the community, either in public officer or as job creators. This was a non-partisan primary.
Teresa Jacobs, who has served as Orange County’s mayor for two terms and was forced to leave office due to limits, easily won her race for chair of the Orange County School board on Tuesday.
Jacobs had more than 52 percent of the vote, doubling her lead over Nancy Robbinson, the candidate running closest to her in the four-person race. A candidate needed to win at least 50 percent of the vote to win outright and avoid a runoff election in November.