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Four Democratic candidates are running for Florida State House District 70: Keisha Bell, Michelle Grimsley, Mark Oliver and Michele Rayner. In the two non-partisan school board races, there is one Democrat: Bridget Mendel, Dist. 1. Judicial candidates are prohibited from disclosing political views/party affiliation.
Meet the Democratic candidates in the Primary. Chair Tracy Pratt and Vice-Chair of External Operations John Brackett moderate. View on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/manateedems/videos/576898843191450/
Keisha Bell was born in Saint Petersburg and has continued to spend much of her life in the city she calls home. The daughter of public school educators, Keisha is a licensed attorney with a diverse professional background in family, personal injury, and workers compensation law. Through her work she has been able to provide legal services to those most under-represented. Keisha is widely involved in the community, is a member of the multiple community and professional organizations and mentors students through Pinellas County Schools. Keisha firmly believes the constituents of District 70 deserve a Representative who will not be complacent. Her whole career she has asked herself: “What more can be done” and has gotten off the sidelines to do it. She will fight for access to affordable healthcare, funding for our public schools, and a livable wage.
Michelle is running for office because our district deserves a voice and a representative that understands the process and what it takes to bring resources to District 70. Perspective matters. Michelle has roots in and investment in District 70. She is concerned that the normal for most of District 70’s constituents has become working multiple jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, not having a primary care physician and being forced to decide between necessities. She believes that the first step in getting on the path to a Florida that works for everyone, is assuring access to affordable healthcare for all. Other priorities are assuring quality jobs come to District 70 and workers’ efforts to organize are protected.
Mark grew up in a working class family in St. Petersburg, Florida. From his parents, he learned grit, hard work, and empathy that would carry him through life. The day after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from USF, Mark started his own business and opened a gym. He continued to train and was ranked in the top 1% CrossFit athletes in the world five years in a row. He remains one of the top five CrossFit athletes in Florida, but still felt he could do more. After working with a client’s son with Downs Syndrome, Mark was inspired to lead several Special Olympics powerlifting and track teams. In 2018, he founded a nonprofit, Specialty Fit, which extends fitness to more than 400 students with disabilities in schools across Central Florida. Mark has been recognized by a Hometown Hero Award, nominated as Tampa Bay’s 40 under 40.
Michele was born and raised in Pinellas County by a family with a long line of service. Michele is the founder and principal attorney at Civil Liberty Law, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights. Because of her stellar work on cases that rose to national prominence, Michele has quickly become an emerging voice on the issues of criminal justice reform, education, health and economic disparities, and race and gender issues both locally and nationally. She is currently local counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and has formerly been an assistant public defender for Hillsborough and Pinellas/Pasco Counties and legislative aide to former State Senator Arthenia Joyner. "I am running because District 70 needs a strong advocate to stand with and fight for our community," says Michele.
Bridget has been a long time teacher and pro public school activist working tirelessly to protect parent's rights and to bring an end to high stakes assessments and excessive computer based instruction. Our most vulnerable students are at risk and more needs to be done to provide all children with a developmentally appropriate free public education.
Her goal is to end the fraud and corruption in Manatee public schools as substantiated by the Florida Dept of Education. Bridget advocates stopping the funding for legal defense of our Superintendent and redirecting those funds back into our classrooms.
School Board members represent five districts in Manatee County. They will be elected in a non-partisan county-wide vote during the Primary Election on August 18. Districts that have more than two candidates may go to a runoff in the General Election on November 3 if no candidate gets more that 50% of the vote.
Our amazing Democratic candidates for Congressional, state and local elections will work for change that matters. Learn more and give them your support!
Margaret Good knows we deserve a representative who understands that solving our community’s challenges takes more than three-word slogans and partisan name-calling. That means changing the kind of people we send to Washington. We need a representative who will listen to people, work hard, and do the right thing; even when it means working with those you don’t always agree with or standing up to your own party. That’s what Margaret’s done in the Florida House, and that’s what she’ll do in Congress. Rep. Good currently serves in the Florida House of Representatives.
US Congressional District 16 includes parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough Counties and all of Manatee County.
Amanda is a high school teacher and a resident of Brandon, Florida. Having the experience of an everyday working person and business owner, Amanda is well-equipped to address the real life impact of state policy. Issues such as healthcare, education, and the environment are what keep her up at night. She’s driven, passionate, and a worker who doesn’t stop until the job is done. She believes that no matter what party you align yourself with, there are ways for us to find common ground so that we can build pathways forward for our communities and for Florida.
Florida Senate District 21 includes part of Hillsborough and all of Manatee County.
Attorneys, Judges, and community leaders trust Betsy Young because they know she has the experience and track record our community deserves in the State Attorney’s Office. In her two decades as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Betsy Young has developed a deep, well-rounded understanding of the justice system. After graduating from the FSU College of Law, Betsy has served as Assistant State Attorney where she’s protected us by prosecuting career criminals, white collar crime, and defending our constitutional rights. Betsy lives in Lakewood Ranch with her husband and two daughters. She is a PTO member and serves on the School Advisory Council for her daughters’ schools. She is the former Vice President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys Sarasota Chapter and an active member of the Sarasota/Manatee County Bar Association and Florida Association of Women Lawyers.
State Attorney District 12 includes Manatee, Sarasota and Desoto Counties.
Andy Mele’s mantra is The Environment IS the Economy. “The environment and economy is the core issue, particularly in Florida,” said Mele in an interview. Andy's career has included published writing, a Master's degree in Environmental Science, Executive Director for a New York environmental group and, most recently, Director for Suncoast Waterkeeper. Andy's goal in Tallahassee is to revitalize the legislature’s environmental caucus and write bills to prevent further environmental degradation. He will also push for common sense firearm laws and regulations and advocate reform among Florida’s law enforcement.
David Fairey is running to lead district 73 to a better vision in 2020. He describes himself as first and foremost a father and husband - a hopeful, yet pragmatic advocate for real, paradigm-shifting change. David will fight for the benefit of all people, not just the privileged few. He was born and raised in in Tennessee, and has lived in Bradenton, Florida for the past nine years. Professionally, David is a CPA and holds a master’s degree in business administration and accounting. He currently serves as the CFO for a technology company in Sarasota and has worked internationally in other corporate finance and advisory roles in manufacturing and healthcare. David is running to bring logical and common sense leadership to the State House.
Dominique Brown, Esq. is a lifelong Democrat who was raised in Manatee County. She has two sons and is the owner of two small businesses, The Dream Law Firm, PLLC and Dream, Succeed, Become LLC. Dominique received an honorable discharge for her service in the US Air Force , after serving for 12 years and also serving a combat tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan (2007). Prior to returning to Manatee County, she earned a Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Master of Applied Social Science - Criminal Justice, from FL A&M University in Tallahassee. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from NC Central University in Durham, NC. Dominique is active in the community and involved in multiple organizations.
Sheldon was born and raised in Palmetto and is from a family with many genertions in Manatee County. He served in the U.S. Army from 1986 to 1993, and has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 20 years. Through his job Sheldon has gotten to know the community and its residents well. He is focused on bringing diversity, accountability, new business in Palmetto. He hopes to add diversity to the Palmetto Police Department and improve response times. He would like to bring in new, quality businesses to Palmetto through new incentive plans. Another priority is roads, streetlights and other infrastructure, especially in central Palmetto. Sheldon can be reached at email@example.com. The Palmetto City Commission race is non-partisan, to be held on November 3.
As a fourth-generation Bradenton resident, Pam recognizes the need to plan for progress and partner with community members and businesses to make Bradenton work for all. She earned Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of South Florida, has worked for more than 30 years in speech pathology and is the proud mother of two sons. From 2004-2010, she was deeply engaged with the Teen Court program for the Manatee County Clerk of Courts, learning first-hand the importance of having an advocate for people in our community who feel like their voices are not heard. Her goals on the Bradenton City Council are to work with other council members to promote the interests of businesses and develop infrastructure in Ward 5. She wants to ensure that the neighborhoods of Ward 5 equally participate in and benefit from the progressive urban development plans for the City of Bradenton at-large. The Bradenton City Council Race is non-partisan with elections on November 3.
Manatee County has five County Commision Districts. District 1 (area in blue) includes Parrish, Ellenton, part of Bradenton and parts of Palmetto. To find your voting precinct, click here and follow the prompts to "Office Holders."
Florida House of Representatives Districts 70, 71 and 73 all include Manatee County and parts of other counties. Find your Distict map here -
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