PBC Tea Party and SF 912 jointly host Candidate Roundup
As elections approach, there are many venues in which to see and hear the candidates. Many of these, such as the network of political clubs of both parties, have rules that don’t allow non-party members to speak, even in non-partisan elections like Sheriff or Supervisor of Elections.
The South Florida 912 and Palm Beach County Tea Party have no such rules and are open to any candidate, even those whose platform is not aligned with our core principles. We aim to educate and inform, and trust our members to use their own judgement after hearing what the candidates have to say.
This was certainly true of last night’s event, where of the 19 candidates who participated, 8 were Republicans, 8 were Democrats, and 3 are registered with no party affiliation. They all received a polite welcome and applause, and perhaps they will spread the word that in the Tea Party even liberals get a fair hearing.
There was a little commotion. When Judge James Martz mentioned he had been appointed by Charlie Crist there was an audible ‘hisss’ in the room. And when Robert Weinroth broke the “rules” about not bashing your opponent some grumbling was heard. (In Mr. Weinroth’s defense, he was late in arriving and was not present when the rules were read.)
I’ve watched many of these candidates in forums over the last two or three months in a variety of venues (Voters Coalition, League of Women Voters, grassroots and GOP events), and many of them have become much better speakers during that time and have finely honed their message as we head into the home stretch. There is not enough room here to capture what all the candidates had to say during this event, but here are a few highlights of the evening:
Susan Bucher, on defense after the Wellington election fiasco, now has a good explanation of those events and has gone on offense by demanding that the state involve SOE staff in testing future changes to the voting software. Her opponent, Woodie McDuffie was not present.
Judge Timothy McCarthy, who had seemed the reluctant candidate not happy with having a challenge, now comes across very personable and tells a compelling story of his introduction of an “advisory verdict” system that settles a high percentage of cases in a short time and at low cost.
Judge Peter Evans, who also had not seemed happy about having to stand for election, now displays self-deprecating humor and lays out a solid case of achievement and innovation.
Others on the roster were familiar to the group but also turned in compelling performances.
Sheriff candidate Joe Talley pledged to bring fairness, transparency, decency, openness and integrity to the office, make the $500M budget transparent and understandable, invite the Inspector General into the agency, stop the practice of awarding contracts to political donors, reduce the intimidation that runs within the agency and improve on the dismal 18% clearance rate. He will also put more boots on the ground to deal with gangs and human trafficking.
Mike Lameyer, a 912 and tea party member from day 1, gave a rousing diatribe against excessive government benefits provided to illegal aliens, cronyism in Tallahassee that brought us red light cameras after the suppliers lobbied heavily for the bill, and the poor record and wasted dollars on the FCAT.
Perhaps the most intriguing presentation of the evening was given by Clerk candidate Lisa Epstein. A long shot to unseat long time Clerk and Comptroller Sharon Bock who was also present, Ms. Epstein is running for the office as the next step in her fight against fraud and abuse in the banking system, particularly in the area of foreclosure documents. “The Rule of Law is one of the most important founding concepts of our country”, she began, and she “believes in taking personal responsibility for the well being of our country and its citizens.” A foreclosure abuse activist who has gained national attention, she sites examples of incomplete or forged documents being accepted by the Clerk’s office, transfer fees not being collected on FNMA and FHLMC (aka “Fannie” and “Freddie”) owned properties, law firms using the Clerk’s office to shift the cost of research onto the taxpayers, and banks that are not paying sewer and other liens on foreclosed properties. She also faults the Clerk for withholding the funds collected for the IG office from the municipalities while the lawsuit is pending.
Whether it is fair to lay any of these charges on the desk of Sharon Bock is open to interpretation, and the constitutional makeup of the office does not suggest an activist role for the Clerk in pursuing patterns of document fraud. That said, corruption, cronyism and the abuses by “too big to fail” institutions should strike a chord with those of us who care about free markets and restoring trust in government. Whether or not Lisa Epstein prevails in the election next week, I hope she continues to pursue these projects and wish her well.
The complete list of participants was:
- Sheriff: Joe Talley and Cleamond Walker
- Clerk: Sharon Bock and Lisa Epstein
- Property Appraiser: Gary Nikolits and Robert Weinroth
- Supervisor of Elections: Susan Bucher
- Senate District 25: Melanie Peterson
- Senate District 34: Mike Lameyer
- 15th Circuit, group 2: Jody Lane and Timothy McCarthy
- 15th Circuit, group 9: Ron Alvarez
- 15th Circuit, group 26: James Martz and Margherita Downey
- County group 4: Peter Evans
- Boca Beach and Park District: Tom Thayer
- GOP Committeewoman: Fran Hancock and Cindy Tindell
- GOP Committeeman: Peter Feaman
Some pictures from the event: