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Endorsements

La Gaceta endorses Scott Franklin for Congress in Republican Primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published August 7, 2020

District 15 runs from the east edge of Tampa all the way to Winter Haven. Its southern boundary is the Alafia River and goes up into Lake County. Ross Spano is the incumbent and is serving his first term. He won the seat easily by cheating. He borrowed $180,000 from a friend deposited it in his personal account and then donated it to his campaign, claiming he was the source of the money. He says he didn’t know it was wrong.
To believe him, we would need to believe Spano is as dumb as a rock. That means he is too dumb to effectively serve his constituents.
Republican Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin wants to unseat Spano and has a good chance of winning. Franklin served 14 years as a Naval aviator and 12 years in the Reserve. He is now a small businessman in Lakeland and is very involved in the Lakeland civic community. Franklin wants to go to Congress to fight socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
So much for reaching across the aisle or fighting common enemies, such as Russia or COVID-19.
Franklin also wants to stand up for Christian values with a gun in his hand. His main goal, though, is advancing President Trump’s agenda. Today, that agenda is sending COVID-19-immune children to school.
While we agree with almost nothing Franklin stands for, he at least seems to be an honest guy.
La Gaceta endorses Scott Franklin in the Republican Primary for Congressional District 15.

La Gaceta endorses Alan Cohn for Congress in Democratic Primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published August 7, 2020

Democrats Alan Cohn, Adam Hattersley and Jesse Philippe are vying to replace Republican incumbent Ross Spano. All would be a better choice than the ethically challenged Spano.
Jesse Philippe served as a U.S. Marine and was deployed in Iraq. After his service, he earned a law degree and has worked at the Department of Revenue and interned at the state attorney’s office. His family is from Haiti.
Philippe is passionate about public service and wants to improve the lives of families who struggle in District 15. His ideas are rough and need to be better researched, such as his proposal to provide healthcare access to low-income people by opening the already taxed VA hospitals to them.
Adam Hattersley is a Navy veteran, small business owner and currently serves as a state representative for District 59, to which he was elected in 2018.
Hattersley labels his stance on policies as progressive and says global warming, healthcare and supporting veterans are big issues for him. When we asked him about reversing the trade and travel embargo on Cuba, we found his answers to be timid.
Alan Cohn is an investigative journalist and ran for this seat once before. His understanding of issues is deeper than his opponents and his solutions are better formed. He also seems to have a more mature understanding of Congress and how to best succeed on the job.
His number one goal is to make sure his office shines when it comes to constituent services. He invoked Congressman Sam Gibbons, who was always there to help people with their Social Security problems, to receive VA benefits and navigate the immigration system. Greater customer service should be the top goal of every congressional office. Most have forgotten that, so we’re impressed with Cohn’s commitment.
He also committed to hire Spanish-speaking personnel for his office. He would work to end the trade and travel embargo on Cuba and would be unafraid to travel to Cuba and engage the government. He supports Puerto Rican statehood. We asked the three candidates if they would vote for Nancy Pelosi to remain speaker of the House. Philippe and Hattersley talked about seeing if someone emerged who would better match their beliefs.
Cohn said he would support Pelosi because with Biden as president and Pelosi as speaker, it would be quicker for Democrats to dismantle all the bad policies created by Trump. Cohn said Democrats can’t afford infighting with so much to do. We agree.
La Gaceta strongly supports Alan Cohn for Congressional District 15.

La Gaceta endorses Reddick for County Commission District 3 in Democratic primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

This race offers several strong candidates and the public really can’t go wrong as far as finding a good leader, but this race also could create a big problem for racial equality and race relations in our community.
Gwen Myers started off strong last year but seemed to lose momentum this summer. She has an impressive resume in County government and tells of all the projects she led in the community. Her answers to present issues and needed solutions weren’t as strong as the other candidates and we were shocked when we asked her if the number of county commissioners should grow and she answered she would have to study the issue.
Rick Fernandez is a smart, passionate candidate. He is an attorney and a legal recruiter. He’s also been a neighborhood activist who has opposed FDOT’s plans to widen I-275 in order to add toll lanes. He does not want to see capacity added to our interstates and instead believes investment in mass transit can alleviate future increases to interstate traffic.
His campaign creates a dilemma for us. The current three-at-large/four-single-member district design of the County Commission created in the early ‘80s is starting to fail in its design to bring diversity to the County Commission.
When the four single-member districts were drawn up, District 3 was drawn to make it a predominantly Black district, which created the opportunity for the first African-American to be elected to the Commission in 1985. Since then, an African-American has always won that seat, but the percentage of Blacks in the district keeps declining as that population moves to other areas of the county. The current race could see four Black candidates split the Black vote and Fernandez receive enough of the white and Hispanic vote to win. We would then have a Commission that does not have a Black serving on it. To us, this would be a giant step backwards.
The fix is to increase the number of single-member districts or for racism in this county to end. While he hope for the latter, we believe we need to add single-member districts now so Blacks and Hispanics don’t have to wrestle over the same seat.
Fernandez has every right to run for office and his candidacy shouldn’t create this problem, but we failed to find four county commissioners willing to do the right thing for the 25 years we have advocated for more single-member districts.
Sky U. White is a nurse and is running for office for the second time. She is a smart, thoughtful candidate who has a good grasp of the issues. She is also a proponent of blocking FDOT’s plans to enlarge the footprint of I-275 for additional capacity. She wants rapid growth of mass transit to address the mobility needs of our increasing population. We could easily see White as a commissioner.
Tom Scott is a former two-term county commissioner and city councilman who worked well with other members on the board. That’s why his peers selected him three times as the chair of the County Commission. His style also allowed him to garner support for many projects in his district. He was a visionary in his support of the creation of CRAs, expansion of the Leroy Selmon Expressway and in laying the groundwork for the sports complex in Progress Village.
Voters wouldn’t be wrong to return him to the Board.
Our favorite is Frank Reddick. He has shown his willingness to fight for needs in the district. He had the respect of his peers on Tampa City Council and it showed with their selection of him as their chair twice. He was able to accomplish much, even after drawing the ire of the mayor for forcing the City to repair and reopen two swimming pools in the district that were going to remain closed.
He also battled with the administration for a citizens review board and police body cameras. He advanced this issue, but the program is watered down due to the strong mayoral system of government in Tampa.
With the Black Lives Matter protests and the exposure of police abuse around the country of Black citizens, Reddick’s fight was ahead of its time.
I have witnessed him advocate for the district he loves time and again.
La Gaceta endorses Frank Reddick in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 3.

La Gaceta endorses Morejon for County Commission District 1 in Republican primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

Scott Levinson and Tony Morejon are trying to earn the GOP nomination to go on to November and face either Harry Cohen or Jen McDonald.
Levinson believes the County should be run more like a business and offers that the County should have saved money during COVID-19 and laid off some personnel who were unable to perform their normal work. He thinks leaders need to be held accountable, the County should do a better job and we don’t need additional revenue to upgrade parks, recreational facilities and County properties. Instead, we can pay for them with cost savings. The businessman and executive director of the Tampa Bay Youth Football League talks more about a philosophy of how government should work but does not offer practical details of how to get there. He is sincere and passionate.
Tony Morejon worked for Hillsborough County for 26 years as the Hispanic community liaison. In that role, he advocated for Hispanics with County government, would assist the Hispanic community with problems it was having with County government and communicated to Hispanics the services available to them. Morejon had to work with Republicans and Democrats and presents himself in a calm confident manner. His platform is light on details and offers no specifics on current issues, but we know he’ll be an advocate for the Latin community and that tilts the scales in his favor.
La Gaceta endorses Tony Morejon for County Commission District 1 in the Republican primary.

La Gaceta endorses Cohen for County Commission District 1 in Democratic primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

Harry Cohen and Jen McDonald are competing to be the Democratic nominee.
Jen McDonald is an insurance broker and consultant. She has been running for this seat for a couple of years and over that time has become a better campaigner. She is bright, energetic and passionate about improving our community. She supports putting the transportation tax back on the ballot if the Supreme Court nullifies the current one and is strongly in favor of using new dollars for mass transit and enhancing our streets and communities for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Harry Cohen and McDonald aren’t too far apart on issues, but we find Cohen a little more nuanced and more practical. One difference between the two is Cohen would support growing the number of county commissioners, which is very important to this county’s future and to the cause of racial equality.
During Cohen’s eight years on the City Council, he proved to be a studious, smart advocate for his district and was responsive to constituents.
He will be a shining star on the County Commission. La Gaceta endorses Harry Cohen in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 1.

La Gaceta endorses Chronister for Sheriff in the Republican primary

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister faces a Republican primary challenger, Charles Boswell. We didn’t interview either candidate in the race. We didn’t feel the need. Boswell’s chief complaint against Chronister is he behaves like a Democrat and Boswell offers up his qualifications as being — conservative values, defender of the Constitution and defender of religious freedom.
We are really just looking for protect and serve and feel Sheriff Chronister is doing a very good job of that. Chronister is professional, knowledgeable, accessible and prepared to lead a department that serves a diverse, urban and suburban community of 1.4 million people.
La Gaceta endorses Chad Chronister in the Republican primary for Hillsborough County Sheriff.