93-Year-Old Mayor Who Served 19 Terms Loses Runoff Election in Florida

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 06:06 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Voters in a Florida city opted for change Tuesday when they voted out 93-year-old Mayor John Land in a runoff election.

Apopka residents chose 56-year-old Joe Kilsheimer, who apparently convinced the city's electorate to put a younger, more energetic person in charge.

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Kilsheimer won 54 percent of the vote to Land's 46 percent. The election was the most expensive in Apopka history, with the Land outspending Kilsheimer $100,000 to $40,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The loss ends Land's run as Florida's longest-serving mayor, and he was also considered to be the oldest in the U.S. He had served Apopka, the second-largest city in Orange County, for 19 terms and all but three years since 1949.

"I love Apopka still, but I'll probably have a broken heart," Land told supporters, according to the paper. "We lost but we love all of you ... sorry that it didn't work out."

Land then recalled something he learned while serving as a soldier under Gen. George Patton during World War II.

"I think about old General Patton — I served in his Army," Land said. "He had a saying: 'I wouldn't give two hoots in hell for someone who lost and laughed about it.' That's how I feel."

Kilsheimer, who begins his term April 22, called the election historic for Apopka and its citizens.

"For the first time in our city's history, both the old and new residents of Apopka are looking to have a say in how our city is run," Kilsheimer told his supporters, according to the Sentinel. "We were always confident about our prospects for winning. We knew what people in Apopka were telling us. They were looking for a new direction."

Land, Kilsheimer, Gregg Phillips, and Glen Clancy were all vying for the mayor's seat in the March 11 general election. The runoff election was necessary when no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.

Land was first elected at age 29, when Harry S. Truman was president. A WW II veteran, Land fought in the Battle of the Bulge. His previous mayoral defeat came in 1967 when voters felt he served long enough, Reuters said. He earned $1 a month during his first term and oversaw the growth from an agriculture community with a $31,000 budget to a budget of more than $66 million.

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