We Need Candidates Now

“I’m really disappointed in Seminole County,” reports Democratic Committeewoman Marian Williams. “With the hundreds who have turned out this year for our monthly meetings, and signed up for various committees, we have two announced candidates and only a few more planning or even considering campaigns.”

Democratic Party leaders talk of re-focusing efforts on local races to groom candidates for higher office in the future. There are plenty of opportunities. Democrats have lost about 1000 state house and congressional seats nationwide in the last decade according to several reputable news organizations.

Most local races are officially “non-partisan,” but that does not mean they cannot be contested. It does mean individuals have to become involved in local issues and address problems that might involve finance, taxes, education or the environment with solutions consistent with progressive values. It is also where a political newcomer can learn how to campaign, how to speak in public, how to express ideas clearly, how to deal with the media and how to build a campaign structure.

“We have volunteers to work on campaigns,” says SemDems Chairman Rob Bial, “we need candidates.”

“We have experienced people who can coach and guide newcomers,” says Williams, “we need passionate people who want to commit to making a real difference.”

Qualifying for the races in Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Longwood, and Oviedo opens in August.

The Altamonte Springs mayor runs “at large,” and can live in any of the city’s four districts. Incumbent Patricia Bates’ 3- year term is up this year, as are the 2-year terms of District 1 Commissioner Gardner Hussey and District 3 Commissioner Sarah Reece . Qualifying opens at noon, August 28 and closes at 4:30 p.m., September 5.

In Lake Mary, the District 2 seat of Deputy Mayor George Duryea and District 4 seat of Commissioner Jo Ann Lucarelli are open. Qualifying for the two-year terms opens at noon Monday, August 28 and closes at noon Friday, September 1.

In Longwood, the terms of District One Commissioner John Maingot, District Two Mayor Joe Durso and District Four Commissioner Mark Weller are up. Those terms were recently changed to four years according to the City Clerk’s office. Qualification will run from noon, Monday, August 21 to noon, Friday, August 25.

Both Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere and Deputy Mayor Steve Henken are up for re-election. Qualifying has been set for noon, Monday August 14th through noon Friday August 18th during normal business hours.

Specific residency requirements vary from city to city. The city clerks and the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections office offer information on the legalities of qualifying and setting up campaigns.

More races are coming in 2018, of course, and at the local level those include the Mayor and two commission seats in Sanford and Winter Springs, two commission seats in Longwood, Altamonte Springs and Lake Mary and three commission seats in Casselberry. Three seats also are open on the Water Conservation District 3 and the Seminole County School Board. The District 2 and 4 seats are also open on the County Commission.

It could be argued that former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill’s saying, “All politics is (or are) local,” is less true now than in the past. But it can still be argued that local politics is a good place to start making a difference.

If you are interested in running for a position, please reach out to campaign@semdems.com to learn how the SemDems can help you!