To the editor:
As a qualified candidate for newly reapportioned State House District 79 - North Fort Myers, Lehigh and Alva - I was somewhat dismayed (more like so mad I could spit) when I called the Lee Republican Women Federated Club of Lee County on Monday, July 9, and found out that they had not scheduled time for State House 79 candidates to speak prior to our final election on Aug. 14. The Monday meeting event of July 9 was scheduled from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn and was the last monthly scheduled campaign speaking event before the Aug. 14 open voting for State House 79.
A few minutes later I called Lee Republican Women's Club (Chartered). The Republican candidates for State Representative District 77 were scheduled to speak on Tuesday, July 10, with an eight-minute time limit. I suggested to the president, Nena Arias, that I would have been pleased to have had only four minutes of the approximate hour and one half meeting scheduled to address the group at the luncheon. She said no and that the program director is in charge and she, Nena, did not have the responsibility to initiate a program change. The program director, Brenda Skupny, candidate for State Republican Committee Woman from Lee County certainly had to have known that House Districts 78 and 79 would both have their final open election on Aug. 14.
Since the qualifying period was between June 4 and June 8 for all candidates, why were the District 79 candidates not invited to either event?
There are several ways to disrupt a candidate's campaign for victory. They include: distortion, linkage, invention, misinformation, disinformation and, the most used in recent elections, omission - where the candidate's views are seldom known or heard. As a five-term former mayor of Ocean Ridge, Fla., one of the 200 wealthiest communities in the world and a former Army chief investigator you would think my candidacy and my 10 points specific platform, including a new Florida State Bank modeled after the BND (Bank of North Dakota), would be items of interest to all registered voters in Lee County.
I am not shocked at the attitude of First Amendment Suffocation by the Republican Party. It has been going on now for some time. That is one of the main reasons I am in this race for State House 79. All Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans and Independents deserve equal access to all candidates' platforms. Apparently certain groups within the Republican Party consider exclusion as part of their election process.
In actual comparison, I was granted the courtesy on June 21 to speak with Sandra McClinton, chairperson of the Democrat Party of Lee County, and given a full 45 minutes to explain my views in an exceptionally congenial atmosphere. Also, on June 28, I was given the opportunity to speak about my platform with the Island Coast Education-Political Action Committee. Steve Sokol, area coordinator for the Teachers Association of Lee County (TALC), and other members of the committee could not have been more attentive with their questions. Even though there was a difference in our philosophy regarding public sector unions, I was treated as a candidate most fairly and given 45 minutes for my presentation and a question and answer response time.
This country should not be run by newsprint, political party insiders and money alone. It in fact seems their agenda is designed to divide honest and sincere groups into separate categories (polarization). Until we can overcome this assault on the middle class our future will be ominous.
Jon Larsen Shudlick
State House District 79