Glades residents attend Politics in the Park

Voters throughout Florida received vote-by-mail ballots this past week and are now considering their choices for the Aug. 28 primary election. Glades County residents had the opportunity to meet and speak with many of the candidates during “Politics in the Park,” held at Harbour Heights Park in Charlotte County on Saturday, July 20.

Philip Levine and Chris King, two of the five candidates to become the Democratic nominee in the Florida governor’s race, spoke to the crowd of almost 200 attending the outdoor event. Mr. Levine emphasized his experience as an administrator, having served two terms as Miami Beach mayor. Mr. King, known for his faith-based background, talked about issues and his experience in Central Florida as an entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Charlotte County Democratic Chairman Patrick Hurley said: “While I’d like to take credit for the idea, actually it was our vice chair, Betty Gissendanner, who proposed the Politics in the Park event and our intern, Kelly Shearin, who made it all happen. We had a great turnout, and the candidates masterfully articulated a better vision for Florida. It was a smash hit for us!”

The political speeches got into full swing only when a short rainstorm chased everyone into the protection of the pavilion seating. The downpour cooled things off before the candidates’ fiery speeches heated them up again.

Special to the Glades County Democrat/Courtesy photo
Catherine Price, a candidate in Florida State Senate District 26, shared a rousing political tune with the crowd that remained after the Politics in the Park event held in Charlotte County on Saturday, July 20, on the banks of the Peace River.

Commissioner of agriculture candidates R. David Walker and Nikki Fried talked about farming and consumer issues. Mr. Walker emphasized his background in science and natural resources management, while Ms. Fried emphasized her experience in legal advocacy. Florida attorney general candidate Sean Shaw also made a strong appeal to voters, stating emphatically that he would be the Florida people’s attorney, not the governor’s.

U.S. House of Representatives candidates April Freeman and Bill Bollard both spoke to the group about their pursuit of the 17th Congressional District nomination. Afterward, they shared friendly conversation with one another. Absent from the event and most other campaign events where Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination was any of the fierce contentiousness that characterized the 2016 election up and down the primary ballot.

Among the more local candidates speaking at the event was Catherine Price, running for the Florida State Senate District 26 seat. District 26 is huge, covering the counties of Glades, DeSoto, Hardee, Okeechobee and Highlands, along with parts of Polk, Charlotte and Lee. Ms. Price spoke about her background as an agricultural scientist and as a healthcare professional. She emphasized the need for affordable and comprehensive medical coverage for all.

Hopefully, we can bring a similar political forum to Glades County before the November general election. Voters really need to meet and hear from candidates face-to-face. Postcard advertisements in the mailbox and web pages’ information on the internet are helpful, but they simply cannot replace direct contact.

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