May 25, 2020
A Fixture in Apopka - Florida's longest-serving mayor

Photo: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel

Mayor John Land

A Fixture in Apopka - Florida's longest-serving mayor

Jerry Jackson | 12/23/2013

» Editor's note: John Land passed away November 21, 2014. This article was an interview from 2013.

John Land, 93, was first elected mayor of Apopka in 1949. He lost an election in 1967 but returned to win in 1970 and has been re-elected continuously since. In 2001, the Legislature named Land, Florida’s longest-serving mayor, a State of Florida Treasure. He will announce this month if he will seek another term.

» In April, I’ll finish out my 61st year. No, I really didn’t know I would be mayor this many years. I was first elected at 29.

» During the first years, we bought a garbage truck, cost us $12,000. And we had a budget of $31,000, so that $12,000 was a big amount. The truck they used before that was an old flat-bed dump truck and all the garbage and papers and everything else flew off on the way to the dump. And it didn’t hold very much. You had to make 10 trips to the dump every week. That one new garbage truck picked up all of it, and you only had to make one trip. So it saved us a lot. Yes, that got me off to a good start.

» Try to move forward; don’t look back. I like history, but you can’t stand still, and when population is coming you’ve got to always be forward thinking. And I think that would be one of the things I would want to be remembered for … moving things forward.

» My (older) brother Henry was more famous than me. More feisty than me, too. He didn’t worry about keeping peace in the valley. (Henry Land was elected Orange County commissioner at age 26, in 1940, and served in the Florida House in the 1950s and 1960s.)

» I knew coming in that I couldn’t pick a fight with the big citrus folks. I always said I’m going to do things so there isn’t a fight, so doing that, being able to administer the city in such a way that, especially with the diversity you have in the community, that’s the mayor’s job, to bring everybody together.

» We complained, all the cities, to the county about substandard housing on our borders because it reflected on the city. Tires piled sky high. People would say, ‘Why don’t you do something about that?’ Well, it was in the county. A lot of that (south Apopka) has changed, cleaned up. We finally got some grants to put in sewer in the city part, and we still serve some of the county.

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