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Silhouettes Profiles Peggy Land

Peggy and her champion, Majestic Delight.

This article originally appeared in the March. 9, 2018 edition of La Gaceta

By: Tiffany Razzano

As far back as Peggy Land can remember, she’s been driven by two things: justice and kindness.
“So many people are not getting justice,” she said. “If you don’t have justice, what do you have?”
Growing up in Virginia, she was “a melancholy child. I couldn’t believe how people treated one another. They didn’t take care of children; they didn’t take care of older people. They’d call it depression now, but I thought then, how can I stay in this old world?”
Her grandmother helped shake her from this melancholy. “She’d always tell me, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’” Land said. “She’d say, ‘Honey, what difference does it make 20 years from now or 10 years from now? Just don’t let things bother you.’ That made a real difference for me.”
Eventually, she became empowered enough to realize she could have an impact the world “even just smiling at someone or being kind to someone makes a difference.”
She added, “As time went on, I found my voice and realized I could make a difference.”
Today, though she’s never run for office herself, Land is a force on the political scene and serves as a staunch ally to Democratic leaders at the local, state and federal levels.
She first moved to Tampa as a junior high school student. Her father’s health was poor and her parents thought the warmer climate might help. So they moved the family to Temple Terrace.
For high school, she and her twin sister, Patricia, moved back to Richmond to live with her older sister and brother-in-law. But after graduation, they returned to Tampa, though, turning down their aunt’s offer to fund their education at Sullins College, a women’s junior college in Virginia. “My twin sister said no way she was going to a girls’ school,” Land said. “So she decided to take a business course at Tampa College. I came back down with her.”
Uncertain about what she wanted to do, Land became focused on finding work, and, at first, took a job with William’s Pharmacy in Tampa. Eventually, she enrolled at Tampa College to study business, as well. While she was still in school, she was hired as an executive secretary at a new branch of the First Federal Savings & Loan opening on Dale Mabry Highway.
She met her eventual husband, John Land, at Tampa College. “Though I didn’t even notice him at first,” she said. “All I wanted to do was get a job. I was so focused on working and career that I did not notice him.”
He kept calling her, though, and eventually her mother suggested that she ought to call him back.
After they married, he formed a real estate development company, John Land Builders. He told his wife, “If you’re going to work for anybody, you’re going to work for me.”
“I told him, ‘I think you mean with you,’” Land said.
Their first project was an affordable housing subdivision near Robinson High School. Eventually their portfolio grew to include a range of housing types from affordable homes to high-end townhomes. She worked closely with interior designers to ensure each home was customized to their clients’ tastes and requests. “I handled all the details,” she said.
Eventually, she and her husband became involved in politics, though they never desired to be candidates themselves. “[John] never wanted to run for office. He just wanted good government,” she said.
He was president of a local homebuilders association, and eventually was appointed by three different governors to the state’s construction and licensing board. This was at a time when the construction industry was ripe with corruption, and state employees were selling licenses, she said. He tried to clean up the corrupt ways, “and I thought he was going to be assassinated.”
Longtime Republicans, the couple changed their party affiliation to Democrat in 2000 in support of Jim Davis’ run for Congress. Land’s family had been Republicans – her grandfather a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, she said. “Though I don’t think he carried a big stick. He just wanted to help people.”
So when she moved back to Florida after high school, she followed her family’s lead and registered to vote as a Republican. “But as time went on, and I saw the greed and the self-serving, I thought, ‘I don’t think I’m a Republican now,’” she said.
Since 2000, she has dedicated herself to the Democratic party, co-chairing the Distinguished Democrats Advisory Committee with Bill McBride. She went on to assist with McBride’s run for governor.
In addition to numerous local campaigns, she also served on finance committees for presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry, and attended both of their Democratic conventions. “I still think now what a difference it would have made if Al Gore had actually won,” Land said. “It would be a different world.”
She’s also involved with the upcoming 2018 elections, assisting with the campaign of Florida House District 60 candidate Debra Bellanti, who is facing Jackie Toledo for the seat.
Land also plans to back a Tampa mayoral candidate, but hasn’t decided which one just yet. “I’ll say this though, I won’t support anyone who doesn’t support relations with Cuba, that’s one of my top things. That and wanting to help the homeless,” she said.
In October, she visited Cuba with a group of local leaders including Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin and St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice. Land said she has always been fascinated by Cuba’s history, and was excited to experience its culture firsthand. “I’ve never had the opportunity to go before. I was taken with the architecture,” she said. She noted that other countries, including Russia and Brazil, have fostered a relationship that she wishes the United States could have. She’s disappointed by recent backward steps President Donald Trump’s administration has taken in regard to opening travel and trade with Cuba. “We’re missing out because of this ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ attitude. Cuba has so much to offer.”
She added, “I, as one individual, am going to do everything I can to promoted a closer relationship with Cuba.”
Outside of politics, Land gives back to the Tampa Bay community in other ways.
In the early 1980s, she was the first woman president of the Tampa Horse Show Association. She also went on to help found the Gasparilla Charity Horse Show.
Environmental issues have always been close to her heart, as well. She currently serves on the Feedback Committee for the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. She also worked with the Sierra Club and 1000 Friends of Florida to bring the documentary “Troubled Waters” to the Tampa Theatre.
Homelessness is another issue of importance to her. She serves on The Salvation Army Tampa board, and has worked closely with Metropolitan Ministries for decades. She recalls receiving a call for help from Metropolitan Ministries in the 1970s. “Back when it was just a soup kitchen and the gap house across the street,” she said. Because of zoning violations, the soup kitchen was on the verge of being shut down, and the gap house needed a new roof and bathrooms, she said. In addition to helping fund the projects, Land also brought in volunteer workers to get the jobs done. The projects were completed during the holiday season “and that was the best Christmas I ever had,” she said.
She continues to work closely with Metropolitan Ministries, supporting their efforts to help create a facility similar to Pinellas Safe Harbor in Hillsborough County. “I don’t think people should be arrested for being homeless,” she said. “It’s expensive. At Pinellas Safe Harbor, you have a case worker, a clinic if you need medical help, and you have a safe place to sleep, eat, and store your belonging. And a case worker is helping you. You can go out in the day time and look for a job, and you come back at night. This all makes sense.” She hopes with a changing of the guard in November, with a new mayor and a new sheriff in place, this can become a reality.
Land is always on the lookout for Democratic candidates who embrace these issues that are so important to her.
She’s “fired up” for the 2018 midterm elections. “I’m so unhappy with our Republican leadership,” she said.
She’s excited by the Democratic Party’s building momentum. “Everyone keeps saying it’s going to be a blue wave in 2018,” she said. “I say, oh no, it’s going to be a blue tsunami.”
She’s amazed by the number of women running for office. In 2017, 25,000 women ran for political seats at different levels. “The two previous years, there were 5,000 combined,” she said. There are even more running this year.
“Women, we are the nurturers, and you don’t take advantage of our children. We just aren’t going to stand for it,” Land said. “So Republicans are in for a big jolt, if they’re not already feeling it. It’s going to be a tsunami, not just a blue wave.”

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