Who is Jerry Demings, Orange County’s first African American mayor?

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Jerry L. Demings was born June 12, 1959, in Orlando, Florida.

The son of a taxi driver and a housekeeper, Demings is the youngest of five children, by virtue of being born 30 minutes after his twin brother.

Demings, along with his brother, graduated from Jones High School in 1977 before attending Florida State University.

WATCH: The Town that Freedom Built: The story of Eatonville, America’s first official black town

There, he graduated with a degree in finance and accounting before earning his master’s degree in business administration from Everest College.

After graduation, Demings’ journey into law enforcement began while he was working for an accounting firm in Orlando.

The FBI, looking to combat white-collar crime, was recruiting accountants and people with financial backgrounds.

After Demings applied to be a bank examiner with the FDIC, an FBI recruiter suggested he add some law enforcement experience to his credentials.

Read: ‘I’m very upfront’: Meet Mable Butler, 95, ‘the matriarch of Black politics in Orlando’

Demings joined the Orlando Police department in 1981 after graduating from the J.C. Stone Memorial Police Academy.

What started out as a stepping stone to an FBI job would turn into a 21-year-long career as he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming Orlando’s first Black chief of police in 1998.

After his retirement from the department in 2002, he was appointed director of public safety for Orange County, a position he held until 2008.

READ: ‘Icons before their time’: Meet civil rights pioneers Harry & Harriette Moore

In 2008, Demings made history again when was elected as the first African-American sheriff of Orange County.

He would be reelected twice more before achieving another first on Dec. 4, 2018, when he was sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Orange County.

Demings and his wife, Congresswoman Val Demings, have three sons and five grandchildren.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.