ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap filed paperwork with Orlando City Clerk’s Office to run for the coveted District 5 seat currently held by incumbent Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill.
Orlando native Dunlap, 34, was the first African American woman to be crowned Miss Florida and rose to national acclaim when she was crowned Miss America 2004. She was a contestant on season 15 of “The Amazing Race,” finishing third place, and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida (UCF).
She is also the founder of the Crown Jewel Foundation, an organization that invests in the lives of young women and encourages them to strive for excellence and overcome obstacles in achieving their goals. “I was born in District 5, and currently live here,” Dunlap told FNN News in an exclusive interview as to why she chose to run for the seat. “I’m concerned about where it’s going, and I want to preserve the quality of life of the people who live here.”
Former Miss Americas Turned Politicians
Dunlap is among several former Miss Americas who tossed their tiaras into the political ring. Miss America 1944 Venus Ramey was the first Miss America to run for public office, according to the Miss America Organization’s website. In addition, Miss America 2003 Erika Harold ran twice for Illinois’s 13th congressional district unsuccessfully.
Dunlap won the Miss America crown on a platform of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall Behind: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion.”
Miss America 1944 Venus Ramey (left) and Miss America 2003 Erika Harold
Dunlap’s high profile and following could potentially bring national media attention to the Orlando City Commission election from the likes of Inside Edition, E!, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and others, which will greatly benefit the Commission’s ambitious vision to increase Downtown Orlando’s imprint as the premier sports and entertainment destination for the U.S. In Mayor Buddy Dyer’s 2016 State of the Downtown Address, he detailed the Commission’s plans to create a sports corridor that will run from the Amway Center, to the soccer stadium, which will be completed early 2017, to Camping World Stadium. All of these venues are in District 5, which is what makes it such a highly contested seat, not to mention the prestigious Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
Dunlap speaks with FNN NEWS at 2017 Miss America Pageant
Dunlap has not slowed down. She made sure to support her “sisters” at the 2017 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and was also present for the 2016 Florida Blue Florida Classic festivities at Camping World Stadium in November.
Dunlap spoke to FNN NEWS about the 2017 election
When FNN News asked Dunlap what her first project would be if elected, she provided an honest assessment, hearkening back to her Miss America experience. “I knew I would be good for Miss America, but had no idea what it really entailed until I was in it.” In the same way, she is currently “working on a variety of projects that will qualify me before I step into the [District 5 Commissioner role],” but she noted that she will not have a clear idea until she is in the role. She exclusively told FNN News that if elected, she will do everything that she can in the parameters of the role, and added the she knows “how to build teams of people to get things done efficiently.”
Districts 1, 3, and 5 seats are up for election in November 2017, and District 5 is currently the only seat contenders have filed to run for thus far. Candidates Jibreel R. Ali and Cynthia Harris also filed paperwork to run for the seat. Incumbent District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill has not filed at this early point to run for re-election in the November 2017 general election.
Written by Editor Mellissa Thomas and Publisher Willie David, who report on local, national, and international news for Florida National News.