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

If you can’t take the heat, stay out of Manatee County politics

 

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

 

I knew when I made the decision to become an opinion writer again that I would have to burn some local bridges so grab the marshmallows because the gas is poured and I’m about to light the match.

Manatee County politics have been turning heads across the state and nation over the past couple of years and that should be a hint that something isn’t clicking.

Commissioner Misty Servia is the latest of our elected officials to bring unnecessary negative attention to our little slice of paradise in a recent headline story in Florida Politics attempting to get her opponent Mike Rahn to stop saying mean things about her.

This might not be a mean tweet scenario, but Lordy it’s giving me an uneasy feeling just thinking about the state of this great nation because people had their feelings hurt now and again.

However, if I have to question whether Servia is familiar with the nature of politics, then I have to question her ability to continue to serve.

Hiring an attorney to issue a cease and desist letter to Rahn’s campaign for bringing up some things Servia may or may not have said about our beloved Gov. Ron DeSantis is like being that kid in science class reminding the teacher that she didn’t give out any homework for the weekend.

It just comes off as childish, and I for one want politicians leading this community, this state and this country with iron balls – so to speak. Yeah, I said it, but boy, I’ll get some men-hating liberals calling me a sexist for that one. But clearly I’m not saying I prefer a man over a woman. I just prefer courage over complacency.

For the record, I don’t really care whether a sentence Servia said was taken out of context, or whether Servia meant exactly what she said about implying DeSantis committed a racist decision. I also don’t care if Servia fought against naming a local park after DeSantis.

Ok, I actually do care. I do care a lot. If you recall my very early assessment of this race between Servia and Rahn, my only concern about Servia is whether she is a true Conservative or just another local politician hiding behind the letter “R” because it’s the only way to get elected in certain districts.

Rahn calling Servia a liberal may or may not be on point, but for the sake of this visit, let’s look beyond that for just a moment.

Many can look at politics and acknowledge that it’s often a childish endeavor. There’s name calling, distortions of truth, flat out lies, manipulations and more.

Look at what the democrats did to Trump. Not only in the attempted coup of a sitting president, but the ensuing election cycle ads where democrats said if Trump would be reelected there would be a nuclear war.

Oh the irony, since we are closer to a nuclear war now under Biden than we have been since the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1980s Cold War.

Russia is threatening nuclear war, North Korea has begun testing again and Iran is likely to have nuclear weapons within the year. All of these things were not happening under Trump but they sure are happening with Biden asleep at the wheel.

However, if you need local references regarding nasty politics, look at the 2018 campaigns between Charles Smith and Reggie Bellamy for county commissioner, as well as Bill Sanders and Bemis Smith for Bradenton City Council.

Charles Smith told one lie after another about Bellamy – uncovered and reported by yours truly by the way – that if he was Pinocchio, his nose would have circled the earth. We’ll talk about that rematch again soon.

Sanders’ campaign was the one of the dirtiest I have ever seen in some 30 years of following politics, going as far as making unfounded criminal accusations about Bemis. Meanwhile, the only person committing crimes is Sanders. It’s on video, don’t take my word for it.

Those two elections had staggeringly different outcomes with Bellamy winning by counting on the intelligence of the voter while Bemis did the same, but lost.

The only thing I can say about that is Bradenton’s Ward 4 voters either have to step up their educational game or can be easily swayed by a man who dresses up as KFC’s Col. Sanders.

Let’s hope that’s not the case again in November for Sanders and city residents can move on from the toxic environment that has been a Sanders term in office.

The bottom line is that politics is not for the faint of heart. You might want it to be, but you also might want a genie in a bottle granting you three wishes. Neither is going to happen so you have to pull up your big boy or girl britches at times and run your campaign.

Florida Politics did a bit of a hit piece on commissioner candidate Jason Bearden not that long ago. I think there is a difference between Bearden getting that level of attention and the Servia piece.

Whether you are a Bearden supporter or a Carol Whitmore supporter matters not when it comes to headlines. Bearden’s grassroots campaign remains one of the best I have ever seen, so the negative things Florida Politics brought up is a hint that Bearden is shaking things up in Manatee County.

As I said before, I have pledged not to make endorsements in the Republican primaries at the local level and I have no dog in the race between Bearden and Whitmore. Let the best candidate win.

I have endorsed Vern Buchanan at the state level, however. With that in mind, I’m still staying out of these local primaries, but I’m never shy about telling it like I see it.

So in Servia’s piece in Florida Politics, it’s different because it’s more of a clickbait kind of story meant to make fun of Manatee County politics. It’s like Florida Politics is playing the bully and Manatee County is the poor kid in the playground getting a wedgie.

Everyone looking on is laughing and giggling while we try to pull our underwear out of our butt and pretend like it was no big deal.

Except for Servia who would apparently run to the teacher to tattletale.

Having your attorney stick up for you by writing a letter is such a today thing to do. It’s woke beyond woke, and that’s what I find insulting about it.

It shows me that Servia’s intent was perhaps to fight back, but it just feels like that one little classmate teacher’s pet who tells on everybody and begs for homework.

Rahn’s tactics are not uncommon and let’s face it, if there wasn’t some truth to it, would it have really spurned such a response?

To send a legal letter saying stop saying mean things because you are attacking my reputation is like getting into a physical fight with someone and saying stop hitting me because you are hurting my jaw.

Do I really have to be the first person to tell Servia, “Welcome to politics.”

At the end of the day, I have no problem with Servia as a person, and I have repeatedly made that crystal clear. I have respect for her family, but I do, have and always will question her as an actual Conservative elected official.

You also have to remember that Servia tried unsuccessfully for the commission before. When she failed, she used the more easily winnable school district seat at a time when people still weren’t paying that much attention to school boards.

It’s a similar path some politicians decide to take when they can’t win the big seat. They settle for a smaller one and then tries again with a little political bragging experience. But it’s not like Servia made the school board any better before making another run at the commission.

Servia plays an important role in our community. I do believe that. I question whether it’s the one she currently has.

That is not an endorsement for Rahn. I said I wouldn’t endorse the Republican primaries and I won’t. But I will say that if I had a ballot in my hand with Rahn and Servia on it, I’d be checking the box for Rahn.

So as I walk away from this visit with you, I’m watching that bridge in my rearview mirror burn. But God help me, sometimes you just have to light the match.

As always my fellow Patriots, stay vigilant, stay aware and stay informed.

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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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