Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Orange Commissioner Taps Campaign Foe for Growth Spot

From the

posted by David Damron on Dec 16, 2008 9:29:35 AM

Freshman Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd is poised to tap his fall political opponent Rick Geller to sit as his representative on the influential planning and zoning commission today.

That growth panel reviews new development projects, and Geller would essentially serve as Boyd's early eyes on any controversial proposals.

Boyd and Geller made nice after the District 1 county commission primary race, where Geller was eliminated by a slim margin in a three-way contest. Geller went on to back Boyd in the general election in a runoff against Shannon Gravitte.

"Rick is very passionate," Boyd said. "He'll take the job very seriously."

Copyright The Orlando Sentinel 2008. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Geller Calls for State Law Changes for Campaign Finance Reform

ORLANDO, Nov. 21--The Orlando Sentinel published the following op-ed written by Rick Geller, former District 1 Orange County Commission candidate. Click on the image to enlarge.

Geller Endorses Boyd

WINDERMERE, Oct. 21--Rick Geller released the following statement in support of candidate Scott Boyd, who defeated Geller in the August 26 primary for District 1 Orange County Commissioner:

Scott Boyd is the one candidate with longstanding community involvement and a real track-record working for prudent growth management. He helped to protect the Avalon community from intense, incompatible land uses. He helped to plan Orange County's first certified green residential community, restoring wetlands, preserving the tree canopy, and protecting against lake pollution. Scott's love of the land--and our community--will serve Southwest and West Orange County well. The vast majority of a County Commissioner's job deals with growth management issues. I urge you to cast your vote for the most qualified candidate--Scott Boyd.

Rick Geller
Co-founder, Southern Dr. Phillips Homeowners Coalition
Former District 1 candidate

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Geller Calls on New Gated Communities Ordinance to Allow Debris Removal

ORLANDO -- Community advocate Rick Geller expressed concern that a draft Orange County gated communities ordinance does not preserve and codify the County's commitment to seek FEMA reimbursement in the event large scale debris removal on private roads becomes necessary and in the public interest.

"FEMA changed its rules last summer to now allow for the possibility of reimbursing local governments for hurricane debris removal in private and gated communities," Geller said. "FEMA, however, requires that a local government authorize itself to seek reimbursement."

Orange County's Public Works Dept.'s Sept. 2007 Fact Sheet stated the following policy, "In the instance that Orange County is subject to a large-scale disaster where it is in the public interest to remove large-scale debris on private property, prior to commencing the work, the County will submit a request for reimbursement and seek approval from the Federal coordinating officer, in accordance with 44 CFR 206.224."

"Orange County's gated communities ordinance should codify this commitment to protect both the County and homeowners," Geller said.

After the 2004 hurricanes, homeowners in gated and non-gated communities with private roads incurred tens of thousands of dollars in debris removal costs because Orange County refused to provide debris removal service absent FEMA reimbursement.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New JCC Campus Groundbreaking Set for Nov. 2

DR. PHILLIPS--The groundbreaking ceremony for a new JCC campus, located on South Apopka-Vineland Road, has been set for Sunday, November 2, at 12:30 p.m.

The Campus is named in honor of Jack and Lee Rosen, parents of hotelier Harris Rosen.

Community advocate Rick Geller served with Valerie Denner as fundraising co-chairs for the new Campus and, together, raised about $2.3 million on top of funds previously committed. The Campus will feature permanent classrooms for the acclaimed JCC preschool, a gymnasium, and a food pantry for people in short-term urgent need.

"I never gave up hope we'd eventually see a JCC in the Southwest," said Geller. "The demographics for this Campus are too compelling and, when something's crucial to the community, I can get very persistent."

"Our hats off to Harris Rosen for making the new Campus financially possible," Geller addded.

The JCC is a non-profit organization, affiliated with the United Way, open to the entire community without regard to religion, race, or any discriminatory factor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Geller Thanks Numerous Volunteers

WINDERMERE -- Rick Geller released the following message thanking nearly 200 volunteers who assisted in his campaign for District 1 Orange County Commissioner.

Thank you from Rick Geller
September 1, 2008

Dear Friend,

Thank you for supporting my campaign for District 1 Orange County Commissioner. I so much appreciate the literally hundreds of emails, voice mails, and telephone calls I've received over the last week. I'm in the process of answering each and every one. You have expressed consolation, well wishes, and pledges of future support with great eloquence.

Tremendous Volunteers

Defeat forces introspection. We lost by only several hundred votes out of the more than 19,000 cast. The margin of loss was so small that any number of explanations have validity. Many of you complimented our campaign. However, insofar as any shortcomings or mistakes contributed to the outcome, the responsibility rests with me.

Despite the outcome, I am proud we ran a positive, honest, and substantive campaign. That approach helped to earn the The West Orange Times and Orlando Sentinel endorsements. I avoided unrealistic promises, given Orange County's severe budgetary constraints. I did not hesitate to focus on the most difficult issues, including the lack of deputy patrols in neighborhoods and ideas for helping to fix the traffic mess at Sand Lake and Turkey Lake Roads. I'm glad to have helped shape the race's agenda.

I am proud of our numerous volunteers, including the more than seventy-five people who walked neighborhoods with me this summer and the many dozens who covered polling stations last Tuesday and during the January 29 presidential primary. Over 200 people signed up to volunteer, the vast majority of whom assisted in some form over the last year. Thank you to all of you.

Congratulations to Scott and Shannon

I met with both Scott Boyd and Shannon Gravitte last week and congratulated them. I would not underestimate either's ability to ultimately win this race. Please base your decision who to support on who you believe will best serve our community and who has Southwest and West Orange County's best interests at heart. I will offer my assistance and experience to whomever wins.

Time for Family and Career

Many have expressed concern for me. Please know that I am just fine. My four children are happy to have Dad back. The day after my defeat, I spent 20 minutes on a couch holding my two-year-old, Caroline, while watching Clifford the Big Red Dog. Priceless. This simply was not my time, with such young children. I am focusing on Gabriela, our children, and on rebuilding my law practice.

I'd run and lose all over again to have you as my old and new friends. I hope you are having a safe and enjoyable Labor Day.

Very sincerely yours,

Rick Geller


Political advertisement paid for and approved by Rick Geller, non-partisan, for District 1 Orange County Commissioner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Orlando Sentinel Endorses Geller

ORLANDO - The Orlando Sentinel has endorsed Rick Geller for District 1 Orange County Commissioner.

The Sentinel's endorsement stated:

We think: Attorney is equipped to tackle ethics, growth issues

The candidates running to fill Teresa Jacobs' seat on the Orange County Commission are savvy enough to say that reducing crime's a priority, given the community's growing concerns about safety.

But while the county gives the Sheriff's Office money, it's the Sheriff's Office that decides how the money gets spent. It thus falls to voters in District 1, spanning Orange County's southwest, to select a candidate who is able to make sound, reasoned judgments in other areas where a county commissioner can make an even greater impact.

Ms. Jacobs frequently did that by pushing county government to spend taxpayers' money prudently and perform its tasks ethically. We believe attorney Rick Geller would do the same -- and champion smart-growth policies often ignored by most commissioners. His oratory and intelligence just might make it hard for them to ignore sound policy.

Mr. Geller's eager, for example, to get the county to deny water-gulping St. Augustine grass to new developments. And he wants to promote mass transit more aggressively.

Public-relations manager Shannon Gravitte, unfortunately, lacks the candor voters deserve from a commissioner succeeding the straight-talking Ms. Jacobs. Ms. Gravitte, for example, was specific about funding more deputies but vague about where she'd get the money.

Citrus-grower Scott Boyd wants the county to manage growth better. But we believe Mr. Geller's better equipped to bring about that change.

The Sentinel endorses Rick Geller for Orange County Commission, District 1.

The Orlando Sentinel is Central Florida's largest daily newspaper.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Orange County Internet News Service Endorses Geller

DR. PHILLIPS - The Southwest-based Orange County Internet News Service,, has endorsed District 1 Commission candidate Rick Geller.

In a statement published yesterday, said:

"We’re pleased to see that the [West Orange] Times has joined with OCINS in recommending the election of Rick Geller as District 1 Commissioner ... We said it at the beginning of this race and we’ll say it again … It’s our opinion that R. Geller has the education, the experience, and the focus to stand “head and shoulders” above his competition in this race … He “packs the credentials” … His record is long, is deep, and is proven in handling District 1 matters … He’s equipped and has the right focus … ‘Nuff said."

The statement is published at

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The West Orange Times Endorses Geller

WINTER GARDEN -- The West Orange Times today endorsed Rick Geller for District 1 County Commissioner.

The lead editorial, "Rick Geller is our choice for county commission," discusses the strenghths of all three candidates, but states in part:

"Rick Geller, a business and commercial attorney and effective community activist, clearly has the best credentials for this important job. As the co-founder of the Southern Dr. Phillips Coalition, Geller worked to ensure that commercial development would complement existing residential developments. His efforts helped convince Orange County to purchase land for the Dr. P. Phillips Park to fill a void in county planning. He also worked to fast-track Sand Lake Elementary School's construction to relieve overcrowding at Bay Meadows Elementary. The efforts he has been involved with are too numerous to mention, but they're all in the best interest of the community."

"Geller has demonstrated a passion for the work that needs to be done, and we feel that Rick Geller is the best choice for West Orange County."

"That's a tremendous honor and those are very kind words," Geller said of the endorsement.

The West Orange Times, a weekly newspaper published in Winter Garden, is widely-read throughout District 1. This is a link to the endorsement.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Huge Win for Geller in Hispanic Chamber Straw Poll

ORLANDO -- Attendees at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce HobNob gave District 1 County Commission candidate Rick Geller a straw poll win by a large margin. The results were as follows:
Rick Geller............93 votes (48%)
Shannon Gravitte....53 votes (27%)
Scott Boyd............48 votes (25%)

"Geller had a blow-out win," said Angel de la Portilla, a political consultant and analyst who attended the event. "Large segments of Hispanic voters live in the District. From what I hear in the community, and judging from the results tonight, those voters are looking favorably at Geller."

Geller's wife, pediatrician Gabriela Geller, a U.S. Citizen, grew up in Argentina. The Gellers' four children are bilingual.

"Muchas gracias a todos," Geller told the crowd.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

GOP Continues Shift to Geller

Clergy Endorse Geller for Commissioner

PINE HILLS - The Conservative Ministers of Central Florida, a coalition of more than two dozen clergy chaired by Pastor Jerry Creel, have endorsed Rick Geller for District 1 County Commissioner.

The Geller Campaign said the Ministers' endorsement is additional evidence that the GOP base, once thought solidly behind one of Geller's opponents, is shifting to Geller. In addition, Geller decisively won the straw poll of GOP activists of all ages who attended the Orange County Young Republicans HobNob on July 31, garnering a 43 percent plurality of the votes cast in a three-way race between the three Republicans running for the District 1 seat.

A majority of the District 1 constituency is Republican; however, the race is non-partisan. The Orange County Charter prohibits anyone from running for County Commissioner on a party ticket.

"I'm deeply honored by the Ministers' endorsement," said Geller.

"After my interview," Geller said, "I was told my nine years of experience working with zoning issues to protect neighborhoods set me apart as a candidate."

"Churches often have itinerant preachers visit for a few days. They'll stay in recreational vehicles on the church's property. After forty years of this occurring without any ill effect, County Code Enforcement cited a church, causing great concern among the Ministers.

"There's an obscure sentence buried in the ordinance that won't even allow a zoning exception for an RV. If the RV is parked where it won't bother the neighbors, and it's only periodic, then we need to look at making the Code more reasonable," said Geller.

Reverend Peter Petrovich, of Tabernacle Baptist Church, said, "A candidate running for the County Commission should demonstrate a willingness and readiness to address their constituents' needs. Rick Geller has demonstrated that to me personally in working on our zoning issue, and I am certain he will continue this same determination in the days ahead."

"We of the Conservative Ministers Forum know that Rick is demonstrating an understanding of our County's concerns. He is showing an ability to wisely direct his efforts to achieve the best results for all concerned."

"We wish him 'God's Speed' in this effort," Petrovich added.

During his interview, Geller also discussed how he raised $75,000 towards construction of a food pantry to assist families in short-term, urgent need. "One of our shared Judeo-Christian values is caring for the less fortunate," said Geller. "Jews and Christians are being drawn together like never before."

"Rick has spent almost a decade serving our community," said Dorothy Blood of Bay Hill. "The Ministers' endorsement of Rick is well-deserved and I am so happy he got it."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Classroom Teachers Association Endorses Geller

COLLEGE PARK -- The Classroom Teachers Association, which represents Orange County Public School District faculty, is endorsing candidate Rick Geller for District 1 Orange County Commissioner.

"As an educator for forty-five years, I appreciated Rick's efforts at the grass roots level to protect an elementary school from more overcrowding," said Marian Cannon, a teacher at Winter Park High School. "Rick confronted and solved a difficult challenge in order to improve the education of thousands of children over many years."

"Rick is the only District 1 County Commissioner candidate with children in public school," Cannon added. "He is the only candidate who can offer that important perspective on the County Commission."

Cannon chairs the Classroom Teacher Association's Fund for Children and Public Education.

During his interview, Geller spoke of his opposition to new, high-density residential development when Bay Meadows Elementary School housed over 1,100 students in a facility built for less than 600. Rick also spoke of his success at persuading the Orange County Public School District to fast-track construction of a new elementary school to relieve Bay Meadows.

Geller and his wife, pediatrician Gabriela Geller, have four children, two of whom, Hannah (9) and Max (5), attend Windermere Elementary School.

Geller Wins Election Season's First Straw Poll

WINTER PARK -- Rick Geller, candidate for District 1 Orange County Commissioner, won the election season's first straw poll Thursday night. The Orange County Young Republicans NobNob polling results were as follows:

Geller...........57 votes (43%)
Gravitte........47 votes (35%)
Boyd............30 votes (22%)

More than 140 people--young and old--attended the event held at the Winter Park Civic Center.

"The poll was a snapshot of GOP support in a non-partisan race," said Mary Rumberger, a Winter Park political consultant who attended the event.  "One of Rick's opponents was thought to be the GOP establishment candidate, but Rick overcame that.  It's a huge victory for him."

"I don't want to overstate the importance of any straw poll," Geller said. "The only voting that really counts is on August 26 by the people who live throughout our District, whether they're Democrats, Republicans, or Independents."

The County Commission race is non-partisan. The Orange County Charter prohibits anyone from running for the seat on a party ticket.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Voting Cast for Rick Geller

Pediatrician Gabriela Geller, M.D. casts her vote for her husband, Rick, surrounded by (L. to R.) Melissa, Hannah, and Max.

WINDERMERE -- The office of Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles distributed more than 7,000 absentee ballots, which numerous voters received in the mail today.

To request an absentee ballot, call the Supervisor of Elections at 407-836-2070, or link to:

Monday, July 7, 2008

County Revises Hurricane Clean-up Policy in Response to Geller Advising of FEMA Policy Change

ORLANDO, Sept. 24, 2007--Orange County released a new hurricane debris clean-up policy which, for the first time, may provide for debris clean-up in private communities. The new Orange County policy closely tracks language in a new FEMA public assistance policy for debris cleanup in the event of "large-scale" disasters. The new policy comes on the heels of Rick Geller advising the County, through news postings on the Orange County Internet News Service, of FEMA's willingness after Hurricane Katrina to reimburse local governments for private community clean-up.

"I reviewed federal policy and confirmed this opportunity for Orange County," said Geller. "The type of debris we had in 2004, if it happened today, ought to meet the criteria for FEMA reimbursement. We were in a federally-declared disaster area. As we all saw, debris went flying through the air when the next hurricane struck. Debris is also potentially a source of rodent infestation and disease."

The new FEMA policy, pertaining to "widespread debris" in the "living areas" of private communities, requires local governments to grant to themselves the authority to remove debris on private property. The County's new policy commits itself to seeking FEMA reimbursement for debris clean-up in private communities.

Homeowner Associations spent tens of thousands of dollars moving debris from private roads in their communities. Not all private communities are gated.

"We're all paying the same taxes, and ought to receive the same services," said Geller. "That includes cleaning up hurricane debris, especially when FEMA will reimburse the County."

Orange County is posting its new policy on its web site. Click here to view the new policy .

FEMA's July 18, 2007 public assistance policy is posted on the FEMA web site. Click here to view the policy .

Protecting Lakes and the Environment

On the Oakland Nature Preserve boardwalk with Caroline, Max, and Melissa Geller.

Fishing with Max on Lake Tibet.
In rear: Bobbie Barrett (Bay Pointe)

Rick's Statement to the Butler Chain Conservation Association

As co-founder of the Southern Dr. Phillips Coalition, starting in the late 1990’s I worked hard to persuade Orange County to reroute an arterial road planned to slice through an environmentally sensitive portion of the Reedy Creek wetlands, south of Pocket Lake on the Butler Chain. With Commissioner Teresa Jacobs’ strong support, we succeeded in protecting the wetlands.

Today, wetlands surrounding the Butler Chain are facing short-sighted, cumulative devastation, the consequences of which will impact water quality in the lakes and beyond. Bobbie Barrett, who has spent much of her life on the Butler Chain, and her husband, Robert, who live in Bay Point, gave my son, Max, and me a tour of the Butler Chain by boat. These lakes, obviously some of our most valuable environmental jewels, deserve our utmost care.

The amount of clear-cutting and non-permitted, intentional wetlands destruction along the lakes offends me. Dozens of dead cypress tree stumps stand rotting in Lake Tibet, cut down for one homeowner’s unobstructed water view. The loss of abutting wetlands, and the planting of grass down to the water, without swales and berms, is reducing nature’s ability to filter-out fertilizers that cause algae bloom. I am well aware of, and concerned about degraded water quality compared to only several years ago.

Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division is fining violators, but the fines are inadequate to deter. As a Commissioner, I would fight to strengthen the County’s ordinances to discourage wetlands destruction along spring-fed lakes. We need to protect water quality for all property owners and families who live along the Butler Chain, and for all Central Florida residents who boat and fish on it, now and into the future.

Concerned citizens have shared with me reports of illegal activities on Lake Butler’s Egret Island, owned by Audubon of Florida, harmful to the island’s intended purpose as a bird sanctuary. As a Commissioner, I would ask the Orange County Sheriff to investigate and step up patrols.

Your County Commissioner appoints representatives to the Butler Chain of Lakes Advisory Board. I would appoint representatives based on their commitment to preserving the Butler Chain’s environmental integrity.

I grew up on two acres of land in Ohio, half of it wooded, and spent my childhood blazing trails and playing in the backyard creek beds. My interest in environmental issues increased after taking a job with a law firm founded by Thom Rumberger, one of Florida’s leading environmental attorneys. I had the privilege of working on environmental cases early in my legal career. Our firm has represented the Save the Manatees Club for more than fifteen years. On assignment, we represent Audubon of Florida. We also represent the Everglades Foundation and Everglades Trust, battling industry polluters and lobbying for cleanup funds.

The Butler Chain is the Everglades’ headwaters via Cypress Creek, Bonnet Creek, the Reedy Creek canal, and the Kissimmee River Basin. What we allow in Central Florida can contribute to harmful consequences at Florida’s southern tip. This cannot happen.

Rick released this Statement to the Butler Chain Conservation Association in February 2008.

Fighting School Overcrowding

A Message from
Roy Messinger
Co-Founder, Southern Dr. Phillips Homeowners Coalition

In the late 1990's, Bay Meadows Elementary School had over 1,100 students crammed into a facility built for less than 600. In order to protect Bay Meadows, Rick Geller, backed by the 200 neighbors who filled the Orange County Commission chambers, asked the Commissioners to not allow higher density residential development in the North Lake Buena Vista tourist district. The Commissioners approved his request unanimously, creating a new land use designation.

Several months later, Chairman Mel Martinez announced The Martinez Doctrine. The County would approve of re-zoning requests to increase the density of new residential neighborhoods only as long as the schools could handle the increased number of students.

As a leader of our neighborhood Coalition, Rick and I worked with the Orange County Public School System (OCPS) to fast-track construction of Sand Lake Elementary School to relieve Bay Meadows. Rick and I met with the school board's architect and top officials to plan the new school's layout. Sand Lake welcomed its first students two years ago.

Rick Geller is the only County Commission candidate with children in public school. I know Rick Geller and how much he values the quality of education his children and ours receive. That's why I trust Rick to do what's right to protect our children.

Roy Messinger

Southern Dr. Phillips Homeowners Coalition

Geller Calls to Preserve Nehrling Gardens

Max and Rick Geller toured Nehrling Gardens last year.

Rick with Richard Nehrling (on L.), grandson of Henry Nehrling and a Henry Nehrling Society board member.

Severe Budget Cuts in Tallahassee Imperil Acquisition

Contact: Stockton Reeves, (407) 384-8883

GOTHA, FL -- Rick Geller, District 1 Orange County Commission Candidate, has asked Rep. Dean Cannon, chair of the Florida House Economic Development Council, to advocate preservation of the historic Nehrling Gardens and Palm Cottage site in Gotha. The Henry Nehrling Society has made similar requests to Rep. Steve Precourt and Senator Daniel Webster.

"Nehrling Gardens is one of Orange County's most historic sites," Geller said. "President Theodore Roosevelt, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford all visited the Gardens to marvel in their beauty and to see the botanical experiments of Henry Nehrling. Due to development pressures, only six acres remains of what was once dozens of acres of gardens."

Geller wrote to Rep. Cannon because the Economic Development Council he chairs recommends historic grant funding.

Nehrling was "world reknown in his day," Geller wrote to Rep. Cannon, and is "responsible for much of what we see today in Florida's subtropical landscape."

About two years ago, the Orange County Commission rejected matching funds for the property's acquisition. "I would like that vote to have gone the other way," Geller said. "We have too few preserved historical sites in the County."

The Henry Nehrling Society, a group of volunteers, began seeking alternative source of funding to acquire the historic site. They applied for an historic preservation grant from the State of Florida.

"The Nehrling acquisition grant proposal ranked number 19 among hundreds, and was the only proposal to make the list from Orange County," Geller said.

"We only need $6 million in statewide historic grant funding for Nehrling Gardens to make the cut," Geller said. "Unfortunately, we are in a very difficult budget year. The Governor's proposed budget would fund only $1.5 million of these grants while customarily, the State has funded at least $12-14.5 million of these grants."

Geller wrote to Rep. Cannon that funding at least $6 million in historic preservation grants, about half of the usual funding level, would stimulate jobs as historic sites are rehabilitated.

"Beyond economic benefits," Geller wrote to Rep. Cannon, "I'm asking you to help preserve a small but significant piece of 'Old Florida' for your kids, and mine, to enjoy and appreciate. You will be the hero of Gotha and Windermere."

The Geller campaign received word from Rep. Cannon that he is looking out for the project, but is expressing caution due to the State's severe budgetary constraints.

"If we need to go back up to Tallahassee again next year to seek this funding," Geller told members of the Nehrling Society, "I will be there with you--as your Commissioner."

Fighting Crime

A Message from Robert Kelly
Co-Chair, SW Orange County Crime Prevention Task Force

Rick Geller has observed a direct connection between rising crime in Southwest and West Orange County--including brazen daytime crimes--and the lack of visible law enforcement presence in our neighborhoods. We pay some of the County's highest taxes and yet see very few marked Sheriff’s office vehicles patrolling our neighborhoods, except for the off-duty patrols that we pay extra for through our Homeowner Association dues. Residential burglaries last year rose an alarming 15%, from 105 to 120 incidents, in the Dr. Phillips area alone. Rick Geller views this as intolerable and believes reasonable and cost effective actions can be taken to reduce this rising crime rate.


"Rick has committed himself to working with our next Sheriff ... so more deputies in marked vehicles appear regularly in our neighborhoods."

Last year, Rick asked me to join him in organizing the Southwest Orange County Crime Prevention Task Force. Our main purpose, as community volunteers, has been to press for more deputy patrols in our residential subdivisions. Our Task Force is meeting with all candidates for Orange County Sheriff--and Rick has already met directly with Sheriff Beary--to express our deep concern over this issue. Rick has committed himself to working with our next Sheriff to reallocate resources within the Sheriff's Department so more deputies in marked vehicles appear regularly in our neighborhoods. No one has taken a more pro-active role on this critical public safety issue than Rick Geller. Once elected, I have no doubt Rick will work diligently as he has over the years to improve our community's safety.


Robert Kelly

Co-chair, Southwest Orange County Crime Prevention Task Force

President, Buena Vista Woods Homeowners Association

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Geller: Fix The Sand Lake/Turkey Lake Intersection

DR. PHILLIPS - Orange County District 1 Commission candidate Rick Geller is renewing calls he made several years ago to fix the broken intersection at Sand Lake and Turkey Lake Roads by completing a nearby half-built interchange.

Geller noted that, because traffic generated by new development will absorb new lanes a private group of land owners are funding to improve the intersection, further action is needed.

"We need to give the hundreds of vehicles heading from I-4 to the Turkey Lake Road Wal-Mart another way of getting there without jamming Sand Lake Road. We need to complete the half-built Central Florida Parkway interchange," Geller said. "I've been urging that for years."

Congressman Ric Keller, whose District includes the intersection, informed Geller that he makes requests for limited federal transportation earmarks according to the transportation priorities set by Orange County.

"It's time for Orange County to move this intersection to the top of the priority list for federal funding," said Geller. "There's perhaps no more broken and congested intersection in the County."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Geller: Preserve Avalon's Rural Character

Rick Geller’s Statement to the
Avalon Homeowner & Property Owners Association

Dear Friends:

I live in a neighborhood in the West Windermere Rural Settlement District, near Fiquette and C.R. 535, and hope to represent you on the Orange County Commission.

I grew up on two acres of land, half of it wooded, in Amberley Village, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati. I spent my childhood blazing trails and playing in the backyard creek beds. To maintain a rural ambiance, Amberley requires large lots, parks, and greenbelts between streets, while prohibiting sidewalks and streetlights.

I married into an agricultural family. My wife, Gabriela, is from a small village in Argentina, where her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have worked the land as farmers and ranchers since the late 1800’s. My four children—Hannah, Max, Melissa, and Caroline—and I ride horses on our visits to my wife’s family.

Orange County reversed longstanding policy and, due to liability concerns, no longer allows horseback riding on Conserve II land. This policy, however, is inconsistent with the County allowing ten miles of horseback riding on the West Orange Trail (which links to the Clarcona Horse Park). I am an attorney and, having reviewed Florida law, determined that, with some exceptions, one who sponsors horseback riding “is not liable for an injury to…a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.” As a Commissioner, I would urge the County to again permit horseback riding on Conserve II land by those who sign a release and indemnity agreement. We can protect Orange County against unwarranted lawsuits while restoring Avalon residents’ recreational opportunities.

Before the 429 opened, I often drove through Avalon on C.R. 545 on my way between home and Tampa. Carol Johnson gave me an in-depth tour of Avalon, on roads less traveled. To adequately buffer Avalon from more intense land uses in Horizon West, such as landfills (which often seek expansion), high density residential neighborhoods, and the Town Center commercial district, will pose challenges in the years ahead. My experience as a community volunteer, working to buffer and protect neighborhoods, would lend itself well to helping Avalon deal with these issues.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Business Support Shifting to Geller

Contact: Stockton Reeves, Insight Orlando (407) 384-8883

ORLANDO, June 20-- The political action arm of the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, BusinessForce, defied expectations and co-endorsed Rick Geller for District 1 Orange County Commissioner. BusinessForce has co-endorsed candidates in only one previous race in its ten year history.*

“That was completely unexpected,” said Geller. “I’m so grateful to our business leaders for their confidence in me.”

Kurt Ardaman, an attorney with the Fishback Dominick law firm who serves as the Geller campaign’s finance co-chair said, “The initial Downtown Orlando support for one of Rick’s opponents has swung dramatically to Rick Geller. Rick has demonstrated a superb grasp of the challenges facing our community and very solid ideas for addressing these daunting issues. This, along with Rick’s widespread grassroots support, the broad base of contributions from the community, and the fact that Rick obtained—in one day—well over the 1,100 signed petitions from voters needed to qualify for this race, all are reasons why the business community and neighborhoods are supporting Rick.”

*BusinessForce is a Committee of Continuous Existence (CCE) established and registered pursuant to Ch. 106, Florida Statutes, as amended.

Community Backs Geller with More Than $100,000 in Contributions

Tuesday, April 9, 2008

WINDERMERE, FL - First time candidate and West Orange County resident Rick Geller will report raising $105,007 in contributions in his campaign to succeed the term-limited Teresa Jacobs as District 1 Orange County Commissioner. The contributions include $100,036 in cash and $4,971 in-kind. For the quarter, Geller raised $37,751. The report is due to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections tomorrow, April 10.

None of these amounts are loans, which campaigns often do not spend but use to artificially raise their numbers.

Geller has received contributions from over 350 contributors.

Kurt Ardaman, Geller's finance committee co-chair and a veteran volunteer of dozens of races, including those of his wife, Orange County School Board chair Karen Ardaman, said, "We are fortunate to have a candidate of Rick's experience, education and community commitment, willing to serve. Community support for Rick was strong and now growing exponentially--and contributions have taken off."

A source from a local trade association told the Geller campaign that their private polling shows Geller with a "very strong" lead. Although the association does not release its figures, a second source familiar with the poll confirmed its results.

"That's not surprising," said Ardaman. "Rick had sixty-seven volunteers blanket the District 1 polling places during the presidential primary in January. We obtained enough signed petitions in one day to put Rick on the ballot. The campaign distributed more than 3,000 letters signed by residents living throughout the District, endorsing Rick in the strongest terms and educating voters about his achievements for the community."

"For almost a decade, Rick's work at the grass roots level fighting for more deputies in our neighborhoods, protecting an elementary school from more overcrowding, persuading the County to buy land for a park, and promoting and achieving only responsible and high quality growth, are a few reasons why our District needs Rick."

"I'm grateful for the continuing outpouring of support for my candidacy," said Geller, "especially from the numerous individuals and businesses in my District."

Geller added, "Contributions can help ensure voters are well informed and can choose wisely. At the local level, voters want substance and depth of experience on the issues that impact their families and their daily lives."

Geller and his wife, pediatrician Gabriela Geller, M.D., have four children, two of whom attend Windermere Elementary School.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Supervisor of Elections Certifies Rick Geller As First Candidate to Qualify for August 26 Ballot

L. to R.) Mary Ann Whaley and Lev Blaha of Dr. Phillips secured hundreds of signatures at the Sportsman's Lodge on Darlene to put Rick on the ballot. Rick is on the right.

Nearly Seventy Grass Roots Volunteers Secured Enough Petition Signatures in One Day

Largest Grass Roots Campaign Since Teresa Jacobs
Won Seat in 2000

Wednesday, January 30, 2007
Updated March 30, 2007

Rick delivering 1,238 signed petitions--about 100 more than needed to get on the ballot--to the Supervisor of Elections.

Contact: Stockton Reeves, (407) 384-8883

WINDERMERE, FL -- Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles has certified Rick Geller for the August 26 ballot, making Geller the first District 1 County Commission candidate to qualify. Sixty-seven campaign volunteers worked diligently gathering petitions during the presidential preference primary at polling locations throughout Southwest and West Orange County. Additional volunteers--bringing the total to over seventy--collected signatures from their neighbors and offices.

# # #
Petition drive participants are:

Rick Allen (Willowood)

Rose Annabring (Town of Windermere)

Mary Jo Ardaman and Kurt Ardaman (Gotha)

Lev Blaha (Diamond Cove)

Lisa Brodsky (Summerport)

Ed Bromberg and Marian Bromberg (Diamond Cove)

Margie Brozanski and Ted Brozanski (Windermere Club)

Chris Carmody and Lauren Carmody

Nancy Chabot and Ralph Chabot (Gotha)

Molly Cox and Gloria Cox (Lakeside Place)

Tami Denner and Valerie Denner

Sharon DeRidder (Emerald Forest)

Sabrina Drai (Brentwood Club)

Eddie Fernandez

Stael Fogarty (MetroWest)

Cassidy Garcia and Jill Garcia (Summerport)

Jim Gerber (Hunter's Creek)

David Goldman (MetroWest)

Brian Gordon (Stoneybrook West)

Elizabeth Grant (Tory Pines)

Igal Haddad (Dr. Phillips)

Leon Handley

Dennis Herald (Ocoee)

Scott Justice (Bay Hill)

Natalie Kaufman and Bilinda Kaufman (Reserve at Cypress Point)

Lexie Kardon (Summerport)

Maisa Kingstone (South Bay)

Susie Klein (Turtle Creek)

Sharon Knapp (Tildens Grove)

Marissa Kotzin & Kurt Kotzin (Sand Lake Hills)

Steve Levine

Marc Levine

Barbara Lindsay (City of Winter Garden)

Marilyn Marks (Windermere Ridge)

Eve Marsel (Oxford Moor)

Lauren Meyer (Balmoral)

Beth Morgeson (Town of Windermere)

Theresa Myers (Town of Windermere)

Charlie Orden (Vizcaya)

Hali Poteshman (Kensington Park)

Gwen Richman and Scott Richman (Gotha)

Jeanne D'Agostino Rodriquez (Dr. Phillips)

Ellie Saunders, Emmie Saunders, Laurie Saunders, and Scott Saunders (Greenleaf)

Aileen Schaked (Hidden Valley)

Sandy Sheiber (Sand Lake Cove)

Carol Skegstad (City of Winter Garden)

Don Smith (Emerald Forest)

Lee Stern (Williamsburg)

Garritt Toohey (Bay Hill)

Wendy Vomacka

Mary Ann Whaley (Diamond Cove)

Sandy Wilder and Eddie Wilder (Hunter's Creek)

Melinda Wimbish

Angela Withers (Town of Windermere)

Karen Wolman (Dr. Phillips)

Bill Zara (Dr. Phillips)

Ron Zunk (Bristol Park)

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Rick Geller and Dr. Phillips Coalition Advocated Land Purchase for Park

(L. to R.) Dave Huber (Emerald Forest), Robert Kelly (Buena Vista Woods HOA president), Jim Hinson (Dr. Phillips Foundation), and Rick celebrate the Dr. P. Phillips Park's opening at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DR. PHILLIPS, FL -- Leaders of the Southern Dr. Phillips Homeowners Coalition gathered at the new Dr. P. Phillips Community Park to celebrate its long-awaited opening and to reflect on their
eight-year effort to make the park a reality. The park, with sweeping views of Big Sand Lake, features a children's water park, dog park, volleyball courts, soccer fields, baseball field, a padded playground, fitness trail, open and shaded picnic areas.

"Wow!" said Rick Geller, "this is the County's crown jewel of parks." Rick is a former Buena Vista Woods resident and now an Orange County
Commission candidate for the seat Teresa Jacobs is leaving next year.

"Many people were involved in making this park a reality," said Robert Kelly, president of the Buena Vista Woods Homeowners Association, which borders the new park. "But in the beginning, when negotiations to buy the land from Dr. Phillips, Inc. broke down, two people in our community stood up and said that was unacceptable--our Coalition co-founders, Roy Messinger and Rick Geller."

Coalition leaders showed their children the new park the first week it opened. L. to R. standing: Dave Plavcan, Roy Messinger, Robert Kelly, Rick Geller, and Alex Deazuero. L. to R., kids
sitting: Ryan Messinger, Arielle Plavcan, Katie Messinger, Melissa, Hannah, Caroline and Max Geller, Christina and Katharina Kelly.

"The Orange County real estate department drove the negotiations to a total standstill," recalls Messinger. "They wouldn't even agree to name the park after Dr. P. Phillips, even though the Dr. Phillips Foundation was willing to sell the land for one-third of market value.

Rick Geller and I were alarmed and we met with Dan Murphy, then chief of staff to Mel Martinez, the County Chairman. We gave a full presentation on why the County should buy this land for a park and why Chairman Martinez needed to get personally involved."

"Thousands of families were moving into new homes in the Dr. Phillips area without a park," said Geller. "The lack of planning was appalling, not only to us, but to Dan Murphy. He assured us he'd put this high on Mel Martinez's agenda. And he kept his word."

Mel Martinez personally negotiated the deal with Jim Hinson, president of Dr. Phillips, Inc. On June 8, 2000, Orange County closed on the purchase of the forty-two acre park site for $3.1 Million.

This news story was published by the Diamond Cove Homeowners Association, which is not affiliated with the Rick Geller Campaign. Reprinted with permission. Original article can be found by clicking here.