Democratic Party Values

From Eileen Normile


After learning that newly elected city commissioner Democrat Shelli Freeland Eddie recanted her answers to an Equality Florida questionnaire by reversing her positions on marriage equality and abortion, one has to wonder what the Democratic Party was talking about when it injected partisanship into the recent nonpartisan City Commission election. Here are some of their oft-stated reasons that elections MUST be partisan:

1)    “…party affiliation of the candidate is important because it says to the world what it is that they (candidates) value…”  (Rita Ferrandino, former Sarasota Democratic Party chair, WSRQ radio, April 7).

2)     “…one might question why social issues that are a huge platform of political parties, such as gay rights, would play into city elections…..How would I have known where a candidate stood without the party to call on?”  (Political commentator Susan Nilon, SRQ Daily, February14)

Clearly, electoral support based solely on party designation is risky business even for the party itself. The Democratic Party stopped supporting Democrat Matt Wooddall only after it was publically revealed that he fabricated portions of his employment history. Following that discovery, Democratic Party Chair Christine Jennings, said they pivoted party support to Shelli Freeland Eddie because “she represents the values we embrace,”  (quoted in SRQ Daily, March 17, 2015). Meanwhile, it is public record that two of the three Democratic candidates for City Commission failed to correctly or completely fill out their qualifying financial disclosure forms.

If the Democratic Party leaders insist on being involved in non-partisan races, it behooves them to act responsibly and vet the candidates before throwing the party machine behind them. And it is essential that voters understand that party designation in our nonpartisan city elections—or in any election—does not tell the whole story.

Eileen Normile is a former Sarasota City Commissioner

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