ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – The Orange County Sheriff’s Office reports that Deputy Charles Cruz was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on charges of soliciting a minor via computer on Friday. He has been relieved of all law enforcement duties without pay.
On February 19, while working as a patrol deputy, Cruz responded to a call for service at the home of a minor who was already working with the OCSO Sex Crimes Unit because she had been a victim of Sexual Cyberharassment. The call for service was related to a report of someone throwing an object through a window at the victim’s home, possibly the suspect in the Cyberharassment case.
In the course of his criminal mischief investigation, Cruz made inappropriate contact with the minor victim. That contact, via text message, became more inappropriate as he tried to gauge the minor’s interest in meeting him in person. The inappropriate contact was discovered on February 23 by the OCSO Sex Crimes Unit, which was examining the victim’s phone in connection to the Sexual Cyberharassment case.
On the evening of February 23, a detective in the OCSO Sex Crimes Unit assumed the identity of the minor, and chatted with Cruz via text. In the course of the conversation and while on duty, Cruz made sexually explicit comments to the person he believed was the minor. He was immediately located, relieved of duty, arrested and transported to the Orange County Jail.
Cruz was hired in August 2021 and worked in the uniform patrol division. Once the criminal proceedings are complete, an OCSO administrative investigation will be conducted.
“These are very serious criminal allegations, and there is no place in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for anyone that would abuse their power to victimize a minor. To make matters worse, this deputy preyed on a young woman who was already a victim of sexual cyberharassment,” said Sheriff John Mina. “As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest standards of conduct whether on duty or off duty. He will never patrol the streets of Orange County again.”
Unopposed: Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz Cruises to 5th Term
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz will serve another four years in office following an unopposed re-election campaign for his fifth term.
It appears that unopposed races reflected positively on the city’s performance. The lack of candidates overall is a sign that Orlando City Commission District 2 is running very well at the hands of Commissioner Ortiz.
In his re-election bid for a 6th term, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will face challengers Sam Ings, Tony Vargas and Steve Dixon. Orlando City District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan will face Katie Koch and former Trump campaign Orange County chairman Randy Ross. Orlando City District 6 Commissioner Bakari Burns will face Rufus Hawkins in his re-election bid.
An election is set for November 7th.
Mayor Buddy Dyer Will Seek 6th Term; Faces Sam Ings, Tony Vargas, and Steve Dixon
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will face challengers Sam Ings, Tony Vargas and Steve Dixon as he mounts a run for a historic sixth term. Dyer, Ings, Vargas and Dixon qualified for the 2023 Mayoral race ahead of the September 14th qualification deadline.
Former Orlando City Commissioner Ings is seeking a rematch to oust Dyer.
Statement by Mayor Buddy Dyer
Mayor Dyer said, “I am proud to be in the race to serve our diverse community once again as Orlando’s Mayor. Together, we will continue to improve the overall quality of life and secure a brighter future for everyone who calls Orlando home. This includes responsible investments that diversify and strengthen our economy and grow the quality careers of tomorrow. We will continue to expand our parks, make transportation accessible and keep our City safe.”
Under Buddy Dyer’s leadership as Mayor, Orlando has evolved into a world-class city with premier sports, arts and cultural venues, and leads as the Southeast’s most sustainable city. Mayor Dyer remains committed to creating a robust economy through initiatives like the Main Street Program, which has led to the creation of more than 1,000 new businesses, and the development of the Creative Village in Downtown Orlando and Medical City in Lake Nona. Mayor Dyer has worked alongside Orlando residents to define Orlando as the country’s new home for inclusiveness and opportunity, with a strong focus on innovation, safety, transportation, sustainability and government efficiency. Orlando is also among an elite group of A-list cities across the globe that are recognized for its actions to fight climate change.
Early voting for the Mayoral race will take place from October 28 – November 5, 2023, with election day on November 7, 2023. For more information, visit www.ocfelections.com.
Voters who desire to vote by mail must re-request their ballot by October 26, 2023 via the Supervisor of Elections Office at www.ocfelections.com or in-person at 119 W. Kaley Street, Orlando, FL 32806.
OPINION: Democratic State Senator Victor Torres Seat Could Flip Republican or White
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FNN) – Recently, Osceola County School Board Member Jon Arguello and St. Cloud Proud Foundation Founder Jose Martinez filed paperwork to run for the Florida State Senate District 25 open seat, according to the Florida Division of Elections’ website.
Both candidates are Hispanics and Republicans.
Could Senate District 25 Flip Republican?
Arguello and Martinez are hoping to flip State Senate District 25 seat for the Republican Party in 2024. Senate District 25 is heavily Hispanic with a large Puerto Rican population in Osceola and Orange counties.
During the 2022 midterm election, incumbent State Senator Victor Torres was clearly losing support among Democrat and independent Hispanic voters in Osceola County. Republican candidate Peter Vivaldi came within 300 votes of flipping Osceola County out of the Democratic Party’s hands. The Democrats appear to have their work cut out for them if they want to switch Osceola County from purple back to blue.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, won Osceola County in the 2022 election, showing an ideological shift in the population.
Could Senate District 25 Flip White?
In since 2012, Darren Soto was the first and Victor Torres was the second Puerto Rican elected to the State Senate. Both are registered Democrats.
Democratic State Representative Kristen Arrington flipped a former Puerto Rican seat white when she won Florida House District 43 in 2020, vacated by then Democratic State Rep. John Cortes, who ran unsuccessful for Osceola County Clerk of the Courts. The seat is yet to be reclaimed by a Puerto Rican candidate because after redistricting, Rep. Arrington was re-elected by a landslide (Arrington 58.3% to Republican Christian De La Torre 38.7) to the predominantly Hispanic constituency, renamed District 46, in 2022.
And now, with her sights on Sen. Torres’s seat for 2024, Rep. Arrington may very well win (and flip) that seat too. Arrington carries with her a name with strong political capital. She’s working full time in the family business: Her mother-in-law, Mary Jane Arrington, is the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections, while her husband, Brandon Arrington, was elected for Osceola County Commissioner for District 3 in 2020 and became Board Chair in 2022.
After Arrington’s win in 2020, Puerto Rican Democrats only have one seat in the Florida House–Rep. Daisy Morales won in 2020 and lost in 2022 to Rita Harris, who is white and a Democrat, while Orange County School Board Member Johanna Lopez, who’s Puerto Rican and a Democrat won the District 43 seat that became available after redistricting split Rep. Morales’ District 48 in half (districts 43 and 44).
Arrington’s current Democratic opponent in the SD 25 race is Sen. Torres’s own wife Carmen Torres. While Torres has worked alongside her husband as well as their daughter–Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado–in building strong relationships among unions, Democrats and political action committees (PACs), the Arringtons appear to have a dynasty in Osceola County, so Torres will have her work cut out for her in that portion of the district.
In 2022 Arrington continued to make inroads with the Puerto Rican community by endorsing State Rep. Morales re-election bid, the only Puerto Rican in the Florida House, and co-sponsored bills Morales sponsored that were signed into law. However, Senator Torres, his daughter and wife chose to endorse Harris, who is white, instead of gaining an additional House seat (District 44) and political power for the Hispanic community.
Puerto Rican political organizers and activists told NBC News, “We must elect more Puerto Ricans to local and state offices and Congress.”
During the 2022 election, Governor DeSantis focused heavily on voter registration, which appeared to benefit him in Osceola County, and the Democrats will need to focus on GOTV (get out the vote) and voter registration efforts in order to increase their chances of victory. With 2024 being a presidential election year, more Democrats will turn out, but Democrats, especially in the Hispanic and Puerto Rican communities, will need to take a page out of DeSantis’s playbook and unify–with zero infighting whatsoever, despite their differences–and turn out every vote they possibly can in order to protect their representation. If not, the seats will continue to be scooped up by others.