Florida mayor, 93, loses run-off election for record 20th term

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 08, 2014 9:02 PM

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A 93-year-old Florida man believed to be the oldest mayor in the U.S. lost his bid to be re-elected to a record 20th term in office on Tuesday.

"We lost but we love all of you ... sorry that it didn't work out," John Land said at his campaign party.

Land conceded based on word from a campaign supporter at the Orange County elections office before unofficial results were posted.

Unofficial results posted on the Orange County elections website shortly after showed Kilsheimer won with 3,352 votes or 54 percent of the total, to Land's 2,803 votes, or 46 percent.

Land faced opposition for the first time in a decade after finishing second in an election in March.

No candidate won more than 50 percent of that vote, resulting in runoff election on Tuesday.

Land lost only one election over the last 64 years. He was defeated in 1967 when he failed to overcome criticism he had served long enough as mayor after what was then 18 years in office. His opponents in this election again campaigned for change.

Research by the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which covers Apopka, indicated Land is both the oldest U.S. mayor and Florida's longest-serving mayor.

Asked what he would do next, Land said, "Probably go home." "My heart is broken," Land told the crowd.

Land first won office in 1949 after discharge from the Army following World War II. Back then he was paid $1 a month to manage an agriculture community of 2,254 people on a $31,000 budget. He oversaw the initial paving of local roads and the installation of the first sewer system.

Today, Apopka, located 18 miles northwest of Orlando, is Orange County's second largest city with a budget of more than $66 million.

The city drew international attention in 2001 when the Apopka National Little League played in the Little League World Series, losing 2-1 against Kitasuna Little League of Tokyo before a crowd that included then-President George Bush.

Land's mayoral salary reached $153,000 annually in 2007 as the recession hit. Starting in 2008, he waived his salary and started working for free, according to the city personnel office.

(Editing by Kevin Gray, David Adams and Alden Bentley)