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

A final look at the August primaries and the biggest endorsement of all

By Mark Young

mark.young@manateeherald.com

As I’ve noted recently, there is nothing like an election cycle for burning bridges if you’re willing to be an opinion writer.

Well wrap yourself in burn proof clothing because I’m about to set a big one ablaze, so let’s jump right into the frying pan.

I cannot in good faith endorse Timothy Matthews for Manatee County Mosquito Control Group 3.

Certainly not until Matthews can “control” the mosquito that has been biting the living crap out of me for the past three nights in my own living room.

Come on man. Do your job.

Seriously though, I guess I do endorse Matthews because I have no idea what his full job entails, who he is, whether the mosquito situation would be better or worse if he wasn’t there, and most importantly because I have no idea why this is an elected position in the first place.

But I’m sure he’s a good guy and does a good job so yes, I fully endorse Matthews in his unopposed election.

I did have to look up why it is an elected position and much to my suprise, it’s because mosquito control commissioners have the authority to add taxes to your property taxes.

Lord have mercy, the government is like an octopus with all eight tentacles reaching into your wallet. Why is keeping the mosquito population under control not a part of the county’s general budget?

So I’m assuming that similar elected positions like the Manatee River Soil and Water groups are the same. And it looks like trouble in these elections.

In the five seats up for grabs at the well known Manatee River Soil and Water groups, two of the five unopposed candidates did not qualify for their districts leaving no one to be elected.

So what happens now at the Manatee River Soil and Water groups 3 and 4 where the candidates didn’t qualify? Does the governor step in to save the day? Does the responsibility fall onto the incapable shoulders of our county administrator?

What happens if these “groups” don’t have an elected official in place? Does the water and soil go unsupervised? Do two people play a game of Texas Hold ’em to win the unoccupied position?

What do these people even do?

I have sooooo many questions, but I really don’t care, so let’s move on.

Let’s take our final look at the upcoming Aug. 23 primaries in Manatee County.

We’ve settled on a few endorsements thus far. For Manatee County School Board, the endorsements have gone to Cindy Spray, Chad Choate and Richard Tatem.

In the congressional primary race between Vern Buchanan and Martin Hyde, Buchanan has my full endorsement.

I know Hyde has a lot of support despite his run-in with a female law enforcement officer where Hyde took the, “Do you know who I am?” road. Nothing to me is more off putting than when someone does that.

However, I’ll say one last thing in my support of Buchanan over Hyde. For those of you who like to point out one or two votes you didn’t like about Buchanan, I’d ask you to pause and take a breath and remember all of his votes that you did support.

Not to mention all Buchanan has done for Sarasota Bay, veterans, making the abuse of animals a felony and so, so, so much more. As I’ve said, Hyde would normally be my kind of candidate because I like people who I know would shake things up.

But our congressional district does not need to be shaken up. Hyde should continue his bids for local office where he would do the most good. He’s not a prime time player. Not yet.

In the Artisan Lakes and Crosscreek CDD races … again, I don’t care. I think these special taxing districts are dumb, but if you knowingly live in one of these districts or were part of the group that formed it, well, vote your concious I guess. No one else cares.

I have a little more to say about the Manatee County Board of Commissioners primaries.

The only primary race in District 2 is a democrat head-to-head race, and rematch between Reggie Bellamy and Charles Smith. It doesn’t matter who wins because Republican Amanda Ballard will be waiting for either Smith or Bellamy in the November General Election.

Ballard must win either way.

As far as Bellamy and Smith are concerned, I’ve covered it extensively. Smith has proven himself to play a dirty political game and, in my humble opinion, is only interested in political office for self-serving interests.

Bellamy, on the other hand, is genuinely in this for the community. I just don’t agree with his politics as much as I respect the man.

So my only interest is to see who advances to face Ballard.

In District 4, I broke my own rule in endorsing one Republican over the other for the primary and it was an easy choice to endorse Mike Rahn.

I made that choice because I don’t believe Misty Servia is a true Conservative. I think, at best, she’s a centrist, or possibly even a moderate Democrat who put an R in front of her name to win an election.

Rahn, on the other hand, is most definitely a true Conservative and deserves to unseat Servia, who has a plethora of developer money behind her campaign.

The one and only primary race that I have hesitated to give an advantage to is the District 6 At Large seat held by incumbent Carol Whitmore. Up and coming political newcomer Jason Bearden gives Whitmore her first legitimate political threat since I moved to, and followed Manatee County politics.

In full disclosure, both Bearden and Whitmore are friends of mine, but that is not why I haven’t lit the match on a gasoline-soaked bridge.

And in reality, perhaps my lack of endorsement will end up burning both of those bridges, but it is what it is and that’s up to them.

I will say this much, however, because your trust in me is more important than my friendships with politicians.

This is perhaps the most intriguing race in the primary cycle. I have been very complimentary to Bearden’s campaign. It has been stellar and the political hit jobs he’s taken proves it more than I ever could.

It shows me that this former Marine scout sniper is indeed the kind of person who can hit the ground running. He certainly isn’t afraid of stating his platform and has the courage and wisdom to implement strong Conservative policies.

Whitmore, in my opinion, has changed from her strong Republican beginnings and it seems to me that she sides with the liberal voices on the commission more and more.

I would never say Whitmore is a liberal hiding as a Republican. She’s earned more respect from me than to say such a thing. She’s in no way a Servia kind of Republican, but she’s also no longer a Bearden kind of Republican.

Make no mistake. Carol Whitmore has done a lot of good things for Manatee County, but in my humble opinion has lost her Conservative edge.

The other Republican in this race is Carol Felts and while I like Felts, and even like some of what I see regarding her politics, I just don’t feel like she takes the campaign season to the next level.

In full disclosure, she has wanted to sit down with me, it’s just been bad timing. Honestly, I feel like she could impress me, but if I’m also going to be honest, I doubt it would change my mind at the end of the day and you’ll see why in a moment.

In today’s politics, there isn’t a lot of room for middle-of-the-road politicians. It’s time to take a seat at the table and play your political hand for all to see.

I’m tired of guessing who the real Conservatives are. I want to know before I cast my vote. I want to know where they stand and that they’ll do what they pledge.

I don’t guess when it comes to the candidates that I’ve endorsed. I know who they are, what they stand for and what they will try to accomplish.

So I hesitate to give either Bearden or Whitmore a full endorsement at this point because it’s a little different scenario. The truth is, I will endorse either candidate in November now that a couple of write-in candidates have jumped in to make that general election necessary.

But if you were to put a gun to my head and force me to tell you who I support in the primary, two things would happen.

The first thing that would happen is that I would take the gun from you and give you an unholy beating if I decided to let you live.

I mean really. Who do you think you are putting a gun to my head?

The second thing that would happen is I would admit that I’m voting for Bearden. You can call that an endorsement or not. Just stop putting a gun to my head.

Last but not least, are the fire district elections. Again, I don’t really care, but will say I always thought firefighters and law enforcement were heroes long before 9-11. God bless our first responders. You folks are awesome.

So with that my fellow Patriots, let’s get ready to politically rumble and 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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