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Tales from the Mark Side

Here’s why Amanda Ballard and Cindy Spray must win in November

By Mark Young

The Conservative Voice in Manatee County


We’ve talked a lot about the two most important races left that will be decided in the General Election. Though I have already endorsed both of these candidates, let me tell you why.

It’s just that important, which is why endorsements have gone to Amanda Ballard for Manatee County Commissioner District 2 and Cindy Spray for Manatee County School Board District 2.

Victories for this dynamic duo of strong Conservative women will bring a unique value to each of their seats.

I am an unabashed fan of Conservative women because they not only represent similar values but do so in a way that can sometimes be better than Conservative men in office.

Rarely will you find a Conservative woman who will put their own ambition over their core values and rarely will they forget why they ran for office in the first place.

It’s not always true, but it is true more often than not. And I use the word Conservative on purpose because as we have seen, not everyone who calls themselves a Republican is a true Conservative.

Such is the case of RINO Misty Servia at the local level and RINO Liz Cheney at the national level. Republicans? By self designation only. Conservatives? Ah, hell no.

We have had our share of wolves in sheep’s clothing pretending to be something other than what they represented themselves to be. That is not the case for Spray and Ballard.

A victory for Ballard will cement Conservative policies in Manatee County over the next few years. One might say, “But Mark, with Jason Bearden and Mike Rahn virtually assured victory in November, don’t we have the Conservative majority?”

Assuming they easily cruise to victories over write-in candidates, then technically yes. This is perhaps the strongest Conservative majority this county has seen in a long time.

My excitement for Bearden and Rahn goes beyond description. I can’t wait to see what they can do, but not every Conservative is overly happy with Republican commissioners George Kruse and Kevin Van Ostenbridge.

I am not speaking for myself necessarily, but I’ve heard the complaints and disappointment in people’s voices that neither are the elected officials that excited Conservatives during their candidacy.

Have they lived up to the excitement that Conservatives had for them in the same way Conservatives are excited for the current candidates? Depends on who you ask.

For the most part, I personally still believe in both of them, though I have not agreed with their devoted support of county leadership despite the facts in front of their eyes.

It spawns a level of truth behind the long perceived “Good old boys,” network of government of which Manatee County is often accused.

It puts connections over constituents, and that’s a problem. But it’s not a problem that can’t be overcome with a little more experience and a Conservative alliance that we, as voters, hope will help all of our elected officials follow the path that got them elected in the first place.

I also very much believe that the addition of Bearden and Rahn will strengthen the Conservative path that could be perceived as not quite on track at times.

After all, we as Conservative voters are working diligently toward putting together a complicated political puzzle. Not all of the pieces are in place just yet.

And that’s where Ballard comes into the picture for me. Some tell me that Ballard will be bullied into becoming a Conservative puppet to push policies she may not necessarily agree with.

I simply answer that they don’t know Amanda Ballard. Don’t be fooled by a charming smile and polite demeanor. She’s stronger than that and has the ability to be the Conservative standard bearer on the commission when it comes to common sense policy, if she has the determination to do so.

I believe she does.

In short, Amanda Ballard doesn’t just round out a Conservative commission. She’ll stand her ground and fight for you.

I know she’ll make us proud, but she has a tough opponent in incumbent democrat Reggie Bellamy.

This is a campaign that could never go negative because it’s just too hard finding a negative thing to say about either candidate. And I won’t pretend for a moment that Bellamy isn’t a great guy. He is.

But he is the wrong guy for this seat, and this simply comes down to a policy debate. If District 2 ever hopes to see strong economic growth and stability, then Ballard is your candidate.

County voters must understand that even if Bellamy were to win, he’s a lame duck commissioner as the sole progressive left on the board trying to push bad policies and standing in the way of good policies. District 2 voters, and subsequently county voters are simply better served with a Ballard victory.

A vote for Ballard is a common sense vote. She will serve District 2 well and bring something unique and valuable to a Conservative commission, that I believe, will make policy making a smoother and better process for all of Manatee County.

In our other critical race, Cindy Spray must defeat Harold Byrd Jr. in the Manatee County District 2 school board race.

Unlike the county commission, the school board races have been inexplicably harmed by former District 2 school board member Charlie Kennedy who worked under the radar to make school board races a vote by district only election.

I’m very much aware why Kennedy did this and we’ve discussed the intentions behind removing the ability of the entire county to have a say in their children’s education by keeping progressive districts led by progressive officials even though school board races are supposed to be nonpartisan.

Well, as Conservatives, we fell asleep at the wheel when it comes to school board races, school board scandals, school board greed and liberal efforts to maintain the internal power of school districts for far too long.

Kennedy was successful in limiting our ability to make our voices and votes count. It’s what democrats do. They cheat. They always have and they always will.

By law, you have to say school board races are nonpartisan. We found out too late that it’s all smoke and shadow politics. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s too late to turn the tide back in favor of our children.

It’s not too late to bring back accountability for superintendents who run our schools like some kind of third-world tyrant.

It’s not too late to end the shadow politics that led to Manatee County forking out $40,000 to study Critical Race Theory curriculum.

It’s not too late to end the wasteful spending and put our dollars back to work in actually educating our children and bringing back some kind of teacher merit system so accountability and transparency is there for concerned parents to see.

Cindy Spray has a reputation of being one of the hardest working women in Manatee County on things she doesn’t even get paid for. Imagine, if you will, you hire her to bring those Conservative values to bear.

The glorious and much needed victory of Richard Tatem in August was a solid first step in shining a light into this district’s shady past. It was an important election to give Chad Choate a valuable ally and elevate Conservative voices on this school board.

A Spray victory turns the tables. A Spray victory returns Conservative common sense to the insane internal politics of the Manatee County School District that has been plaguing our children for far too long with irresponsible behaviors and scandal cover ups.

District 2 voters provided the most votes to Spray in sending her to this runoff against Byrd, who also survived the August election to advance.

Keep in mind that Byrd was a long time Bradenton city councilman and boasts about his educational background as being reasons that he is a viable candidate.

Spending a lifetime in education and politics while doing nothing to fix a district spiraling out of control is not something I’d be bragging about if it were me.

And yes, I realize endorsing Cindy Spray over Byrd has cost me yet another friendship. But I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to do the right thing and so is Cindy Spray.

She will be a fierce Conservative warrior who will fight for your children like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Cindy Spray will make a difference.

It’s up to you District 2. Send a message when voting begins in a couple of weeks. Send the message that you care about what’s happening within this school district and that the children’s lives and education in Manatee County matters.

What you get with Byrd is just more Charlie Kennedy liberal policies and politics. It’s just more of the same blind management that allowed so many scandals to occur in the first place. Vote for someone better. Vote for Spray.

As for the rest of us, get involved with Spray’s campaign and help push her to victory in November. A lot of us can’t vote for her, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help.

Help Ballard in the final push, as well. These two races are critical for the future of Manatee County.

And as always my fellow Patriots, stay vigilant, stay aware and stay informed.

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