BRADENTON – Democrat Terri Wonder's bid for the countywide District 6 At-Large race has crossed a milestone, as Wonder's campaign announced Monday that it had obtained the required valid signatures of registered voters in Manatee County needed to qualify for the race. Wonder will face incumbent Republican Carol Whitmore in November's election.
Countywide candidates (which include District 6 and 7 of the Manatee BOCC) face the daunting task a collecting 2,095 valid signatures of registered voters in Manatee County, or else they must pay a qualifying fee of $4,700. Wonder hit the mark with more than a month to spare.
The first-time candidate said that collecting the petitions was instrumental in helping her deepen her understanding of the concerns of the people of Manatee County.
“It’s no secret that the Wonder Campaign is a grass-roots campaign that’s not supported by big-money special interests,” said Wonder in a press release. “But even if my campaign could afford to pay the $4,700, I still wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to meet and listen to the people of Manatee County.”
Wonder giving public comment at the BOCC Longbar
Photo by John Rehill
Like most Manatee County BOCC races, this one is shaping up to be one of big-money vs. grass-roots. Wonder has raised a little less than $8,000 as of the last filing report, while Whitmore has banked over $62,000. Still, Wonder is well ahead of where most challengers have been this far out in recent cycles and has been doing all of the legwork to suggest that she's a candidate to be taken seriously.
She announced early, filing for the race back in October 2013, more than one year prior to the election. Since then, she's had a very full schedule appearing at nearly every local event small or large, in an effort to reach voters.
“The people want respect for their quality of life," said Wonder, of what she's learned during the outreach. "First, they want to protect, preserve, and restore what’s left of Old Florida. They don’t want more traffic and social strain brought on by the crush of regional impact developments and sprawl.
“Our natural environment is a capital asset,” she continued. “Manatee County is one of Florida’s premier destinations for ecotourism, yet the majority votes of our current commissioners, including my opponent, repeatedly oppose what the people value. Approving phosphate mining permits on the headwaters of the Myakka River is an example of their indiscretion. We need a new course of action.”
Wonder said that respecting county employees was another area in which she would focus.
“We can do better for Port Manatee’s furloughed employees and for our public safety personnel. Any time you hear government workers talking about unionization, you know there is a problem with management. The rub for these folks is seeing the county give millions away to big corporations or suspend development impact fees while workers get nothing but stagnant wages and tax increases.”
Wonder added that same attitude must be extended to the taxpayers.
“Everywhere, people are tired of the paternalism of pay-to-play politicians and corporate lobbyists claiming that people are ill-informed and just need re-education by pretty brochure. The people don’t want their taxes used as slush funds for corporate welfare. They want vigilant leaders who speak truth to power.”
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