ORANGE PARK – Although Randy Anderson isn’t a lifelong Orange Park resident – in fact he’s only lived here for five years – but don’t let that distract you from his passion for the town. …
ORANGE PARK – Although Randy Anderson isn’t a lifelong Orange Park resident – in fact he’s only lived here for five years – but don’t let that distract you from his passion for the town. He sees a bright future for Orange Park, and he’s bringing his ideas to the Orange Park Town Council when he takes Seat 5 on May 21.
While many of the council members currently serving Orange Park rely on their years, sometimes decades, Anderson plans to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the vision of the city. When he moved into his mid-century home in Orange Park five years ago, he quickly fell in love with what the town offered.
“There’s diversity here,” Anderson said. “I saw flocks of younger people moving into my neighborhood and over time, two children in my area became 38 children, and I want those younger residents and their kids to have a town that they actually want to spend money in.”
A problem the council has been trying to tackle for years, Orange Park residents often spend money outside of Orange Park. Naturally, this can result in stunted growth for local businesses. Anderson, who served on teams with Compass Group USA, the largest food company in the world, after serving over 20 years in the Navy, plans to develop ways to not only bring new businesses like restaurants to Orange Park, but develop ways to help businesses already here thrive in new ways.
“I want to give residents here a lot to spend their money on,” Anderson said. “I want them to have places to go to and things to do without leaving the town.”
While he does want to push Orange Park development, he doesn’t want to overextend. According to Anderson, there’s a great balance between a business owner who knows what they need to do to thrive and a town that wants to help them do so.
In the 1980s, Anderson spent a lot of time in Orange Park. He never imagined becoming a resident of the town, or better yet, serving on its council.
“It’s not that I didn’t want to live in Orange Park or anything,” Anderson said. “I just never thought about it.”
How Anderson got to Orange Park could be taken by some as destiny. When searching for an area of land to build an A-Frame house on outside of Jacksonville, Anderson inputted the wrong zip code into a website he was using to find an area to live. Coincidentally enough, that zip code was that of Orange Park and he saw what would become the house he lives in today.
After moving into Orange Park, he decided to attend a council meeting on a whim. It wasn’t long before he agreed and disagreed with some of the decisions. As a result, Anderson became involved and he soon became a town council meeting regular. With Mayor Gary Meeks terming out, Anderson saw 2019 as the perfect time to get his voice on the council.
Anderson picked a great year to run because every seat in the Clay County elections this year was uncontested. All Anderson had to do was qualify correctly. Upon doing so, he had no competition for the seat, following last Tuesday’s Super Tuesday, he officially will be a councilman-elect.
On May 21, he’ll take Seat 5 to become an official council member.
He’s guaranteed to be in that position for three years, and in that time, Anderson hopes to help the town achieve a clear vision of where it wants to be in five, 10, 15 and even 20 years. He also hopes to bring new businesses in and help old businesses grow. Beyond that, he wants to ensure Orange Park properly preserves its history, ranging from some of Orange Park’s oldest structures to mid-century modern districts in town.
Finally, he wants to ensure that every neighborhood, old and new, in Orange Park find representation in the council.
“I want to be a voice for every neighborhood that wants to be heard and wants help,” Anderson said.