Meet Newly Elected District 6 Commissioner Mike Scott
Orange County District 6 has a new Commissioner, Mike Scott, whose lifelong passion has been community service and youth mentoring. A former Orange County Facilities employee, Michael “Mike” Scott was born and raised in Orlando and is a United States Air Force veteran. He currently works with several local schools and nonprofit organizations to mentor, counsel and educate children and young adults.
Commissioner Scott is a recipient of several awards, both locally and nationally, and he has consistently demonstrated a genuine desire to serve his community by helping youth and their families. He is a father and member of the Experience Christian Center Church.
We caught up with Commissioner Scott and talked to him about his journey and goals as Orange County District 6 Commissioner.
Who do you credit for your strong affinity for community service?
I had good parents. They never married, but they were together for the sake of raising me and my brothers. They were always engaged with us. With my mom, it was more about going to school, behaving, and not embarrassing the family, and it was the same with my dad. He would say, “I’m not raising you to be a clown.” My grandparents were also mentors, and they all taught me how to show respect and treat other people. They all deserve the credit for the person I’ve become.
To this day, I still have conference calls with my parents. My dad actually urged me to run for County Commissioner. He said if I didn’t run, he was going to run. He told me I could still advocate for people but at a higher level. He was the reason I ran for this office.
Do you recall a particular event that made you realize you were meant for public service?
When I was 21-22 years old, there was a single mom in our neighborhood named Doris Green. She had four boys who were all a little behind me in age, and one of the boys got in trouble when he took some snacks from a school. Doris asked if I would come to a meeting with juvenile offenders and talk about my experiences with their family as a surrogate older brother of sorts. It was a mentoring program, and I was interested. So, I actually started this journey with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office in 2008. I had friends who were military veterans, so we got together and started a non-profit to develop and implement a mentorship program for the Juvenile Division.
Since then, we’ve partnered with multiple organizations to create a number of personal development and educational programs that serve youth and their families. We have an incredible team of fellow community leaders and correctional employees that make this happen. The programs, all for youthful offenders, teach personal development, life skills, GED study strategies and financial literacy. Another component is cognitive behavioral therapy for teenager offenders, which teaches them to be accountable for their actions and helps them successfully transition back into the community.
It’s funny, because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a police officer, then an FBI agent or US Marshall. That was my plan, but life had other plans. I always loved community service, and doing it didn’t feel like work, so I knew it was what I was meant to do.
Why are mentoring and youth personal development critical to community?
It starts with public safety because crime tends to be related to young people. If I raise my sons to do something, they might listen to me 50 percent of the time. No child listens to everything their parents tell them to do, and a lot of this is because they’re listening to their friends. Friends are a huge influence, and not every kid is being raised with the same values. So, if you can be a mentor to their friends and help instill values in them. It can go a long way.
People still ask me why I mentor. It’s about support because everyone is going to make mistakes. I’ll be in your life as long as you want me to be in your life. It’s about caring – and knowing people actually care about you – otherwise you really don’t care about what you do. And it’s about decision making … making the right choices. Bad choices have consequences. Mistakes in youth have consequences … and result in cascading negative effects.
You worked in Orange County Facilities and are the first Orange County employee to become a Commissioner. Tell us about that journey?
I’m the first rank-and-file, boots on the ground employee, if you will, to become a Commissioner. Working in facilities was a major learning experience. I had a great supervisor who was also a great mentor, and he allowed me to work on my additional community projects. I actually had a number of mentors who helped shaped my skill sets. People helped me when they didn’t have to; they took the time to sit with me, including Mayor Demings when he was Orlando’s Chief of Police, and they taught me things. The overriding message: have a plan for your life – professionally, for your family, your faith and your quality of life.
What would you like to accomplish as District 6 Commissioner?
My most pressing goal is to help the residents at Orlo Vista with the horrible flooding issues they’ve endured. This is my first, second and third priority. I noticed this has been an ongoing issue for several years, with residents expressing concerns about flooding. People lost their memories because of the recent hurricane flooding, so we want to make sure we keep our promises from a Public Works standpoint to remedy this.
Affordable housing is another priority. How do we create housing opportunities for people who work two jobs to make ends meet. Securing decent pay for Orange County employees, which ties into affordable housing, is also a priority.
What motivates and inspires you?
I email myself a list of kids I’ve lost over the years. For me, this is my reminder that what I’m doing is literally life and death. If they had more support, would they be alive today? That’s the difference maker for me. I’ve written 15 or more obituaries for kids under the age of 21. What can we do differently so we don’t see so many young people die from gun violence because they didn’t have the support they needed to be successful or make better choices.