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Letter to the Editor: Political Discrimination in Manatee County


I never realized that when I retired as an educator from New York for thirty three years, along with being a Girl Scout leader, Sunday School Superintendent, youth leader, civic leader, and union representative that I would find that I am not wanted in Manatee County. I continue to do my part as a volunteer and caring about the needs of all in Manatee. I am on the board of Healthy Start, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, active in my new church, Turning Points, Reading Pals, AAUW officer, Democratic Women’s Club President for 14 years and now the chair of the Democratic Party.

In the last few months, I had a sales clerk at an office supply store tell me that Democrats were not welcome in this County and again by another person in a different setting. I do not care what your religion or political preference maybe but do not condemn me for being who I am because I will not condemn you!

I had been a Republican for most of my life as well as my husband who served as a leader in the Conservative Party on Long Island. We realized in the 90’s that the Republican Party did not care about the education or health of the masses. All children need to be educated and we need to support our public education system. When I became an independent and then Democrat, my daughter’s response was, “Mom, you were always a Democrat but you did not know it.”

I have been searching this last six months for new office space for the Democratic Party in Manatee County and have been told by two business owners that they were afraid to rent to Democrats for fear they would lose their clients and customers.  Is this not America? I spoke to an African American friend and her response was, “Now you know how we feel.” The Tampa Bay area is one of the strongest hate areas in this country. Is this something we should be proud of in 2013 or beyond?

I now understand how African American and Hispanics feel in this country. As a Democrat living in Manatee County, I feel the same.

Intolerance for others in this country is still alive and well in 2013!

Patty Benson
Chair of the Manatee County Democratic Party


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