Tales from the Mark Side: The Conservative Voice in Manatee County

Countdown to midterms: Here’s what you need to know so far in Manatee County

 

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

 

Midterms in Manatee County are shaping up to be an interesting political environment, and while the election may still seem to be off in the distance, it’s really not.

Many of our local – and very crucial – elections will be decided during the primaries on Aug. 23. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting out to vote during these primaries.

They are historically and significantly low-turnout elections, which is typically an advantage for the incumbents. If this is the year for absolute change given the wrong direction liberals and RINOs have taken this country, as well as our community, then we cannot afford to be complacent this primary season.

So let’s take a quick look around the horn at the way this election cycle is shaping up and we’ll spend some time in the coming weeks to do more. For now, let’s start with the Manatee County Board of Commissioners.

In the Manatee County District 2 commissioner’s race, there is an interesting battle between the two democrats. While it’s been mostly a democratic district historically speaking, Republican Amanda Ballard has stepped into the fray to offer a legitimate opportunity to flip the district red.

This is true, in part, because of the successful efforts to redraw the District 2 map to be more inclusive and more representative of Manatee County as a whole.

I had the chance to meet Ballard for the first time this past week and was impressed with her common-sense approach to governing. 

As an attorney, she will hopefully bring a legal mind to the dais and implement the kind of Conservative values that breeds success for her would-be constituents. I look forward to getting to know more about her and we have the time to do that because Ballard, as the only Republican, will advance to face the primary winner between Commissioner Reggie Bellamy and former commissioner Charles Smith.

The primary battle between Smith and Bellamy is interesting due to the dirty nature of the previous election where Bellamy unseated Smith after one term.

Smith was caught in a plethora of vindictive lies during that nasty 2018 election cycle, mostly by me in my former role at the Bradenton Herald.

Bellamy did not indulge in the dirty politics and emerged from the election with not only the victory, but clean hands. Kudos to him for the way he handled the dirty tactics thrown his way.

To be fair, Bellamy is the kind of democrat that I don’t mind. He’s a good man who I believe tries to do what is right by his own conscience. Unfortunately, his democratic tax-and-spend policies are not what District 2 needs for fundamental economic development change.

Bellamy is a good man, but clearly we don’t see eye to eye on politics and what can actually work for District 2.

I won’t make endorsements during the primaries, but I can tell you this early on that Amanda Ballard has mine as the Republican candidate in the November election.

I say that not because Ballard is a Republican, but because she’s the best chance District 2 has had in a long while to improve their quality of life.

District 4 is an interesting race with a key primary battle between Republicans Mike Rahn and incumbent Misty Servia. The primary winner will advance to take on Independent Timothy Norwood, which could make for an interesting election finale in its own right.

Servia’s campaign war chest is significant, topping more than $123,000 as of last reporting. It’s about $87,000 more than Servia’s primary challenger Mike Rahn.

Servia and I haven’t spoken a lot over the years, but I do know she has a solid standing in the community and comes from a good family who understands service to country and community.

So does Rahn, however, as a former Marine and Desert Storm veteran.

Rahn is taking a lot of heat from the liberal media about his experience in the building industry. It’s easy to take potshots at someone you don’t really know and that’s all the left-wing media is doing right now.

“Oooh, those bad, bad building people,” the media is saying right now. The media is already taking sides and their reporting on these candidates are blatantly obvious.

I’m not defending or attacking Rahn and I’m an opinion writer. So-called “reporters” are already implementing their misinformation strategy to sway voters into their way of thinking.

But I digress.

Now it’s important to remember that I absolutely will not endorse one Republican over the other, but I will say that there are many Manatee County Conservatives who question Servia’s commitment to Conservative values.

Again, it’s not me saying this. It’s just the word on the proverbial streets where I hear the question of whether Servia and other “Republicans” are conservative enough to represent the values of their constituents.

I’m not taking shots at Servia. I have great respect for her and her family and I look forward to getting more in depth with her as the primaries near. This is just a quick overview and she’ll have the opportunity to answer the questions I’m asked about her.

One of those questions for Servia and other “Republicans,” will be who did you vote for in the 2020 presidential election and why? I think the answer to that question will be compelling, but what’s also compelling and important to follow is which local media outlets are supporting which candidate.

It’s also very telling that local liberal media outlets are already falling in certain corners. Ask yourself why that is.

As for Rahn, there is no doubt where this Marine veteran stands. Like Ballard, he makes no bones about his support for President Donald Trump and our great Gov. Ron DeSantis.

I met Rahn for the first time this past week as well. He brings a strong, unmistakable conservative voice to the table.

I look forward to speaking to both Rahn and Servia and watching their debates. It is then that I will make my own decision and may the best Republican Conservative win the day.

Norwood and I are friends on social media, as I am with a lot of the candidates and elected officials. He has tried twice before to take office and was unsuccessful in both bids.

Norwood is not someone the Republican primary victor should overlook by any means and can make a strong Conservative argument with the best of them.

District 6 will essentially be decided on Aug. 13, so as they say, get out the vote.

I know all three of the candidates, who are incumbent Carol Whitmore and challengers Jason Bearden and Carol Ann Felts.

This isn’t Felts’ first bid for office and I honestly don’t hear much about her campaign. I hope to learn more about her in the coming weeks because voter unawareness is a sure way to stay on the political sidelines.

The same can’t be said for Marine veteran Jason Bearden, who in full disclosure is a friend of mine. So is Whitmore, so I will try and walk a careful line here, and again, it’s not my intent to get involved in the primary battles.

But in overview, this election really comes down to Bearden and Whitmore. Bearden is running a strong, grassroots campaign. It’s something I haven’t seen at the local level in a long time and it’s paying dividends in the fact that this may be Whitmore’s biggest challenge in her 16 years on the dais.

I think this is an election that will truly come down to voter turnout in August. Bearden is an unapologetic Conservative Republican. You meet him, you know where he stands. Period.

It’s refreshing in a lot of ways and a victory for Bearden essentially means that you are sending a Marine veteran back into public service and in no way are you sending just another politician to the Manatee County dais.

Whitmore, of course, is a lifelong health care worker. She is full of compassion and certainly one of the most caring people I’ve ever met. Again, it’s not me saying what I’m about to say, but the No. 1 question I get from people is whether Whitmore is Conservative enough in a community that overwhelmingly supports Republicans like DeSantis and Trump?

It’s really up to you to answer that question. With no general election in their future thus far, the winner takes all in August as of right now.

We’ll ask them some key questions to help you along with that decision. Sure, we’ll talk about policy, voting records, and changes they hope to bring to the dais. But I’m not your ordinary interviewer, so we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of just who the real Republicans are as we move forward.

Barring a need to rant about another idiotic thing Biden has done, we’ll take a look at the “nonpartisan” school board races in our next visit. As you can imagine, I’ll have some things to say about the current candidates who will decide the educational path of our children’s future.

Until then my fellow patriots, stay vigilant as always and keep up the good fight.

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By Mark Young

Mark Young is a U.S. Army veteran and a seasoned journalist of 25 years. His writing and reporting has garnered dozens of state press association and press club awards in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming for investigative reporting, opinion writing, in-depth reporting and more.

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