May 12, 2014
As elected Democratic officials, we are excited about the positive policy and legislative progress in our community. Much of that progress is due to the election of forward-thinking Democratic legislators, commissioners, council members and mayors. The Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Mark Hanisee, has been instrumental in that progress.
However, Chairman Hanisee’s recent comments regarding the potential Congressional candidacy of Reverend Manuel Sykes, do not reflect the principles and values of the Democratic Party. As elected officials, we are compelled to respond – to Reverend Sykes, to the Democratic Party, and to the community at large.
In our view, the tone and content of Chairman Hanisee’s comments, left in a voice mail to Reverend Sykes (and publicly available on the Tampa Bay Times website), were inappropriate and do not reflect the Democratic Party’s longstanding commitment to inclusion, fairness and equal opportunity. Furthermore, the Chair’s refusal to provide a straightforward apology has allowed the situation to deteriorate, and has drawn negative commentary from a diverse group of local thought leaders and longtime Democratic supporters.
To that end, the undersigned Democratic elected officials do hereby:
a) Offer our apologies to Reverend Manuel Sykes for the content and tone of the message from Chairman Hanisee, in which he urged you not to run for Congressional District 13, and made other inappropriate remarks.
b) Urge Chairman Hanisee and the Democratic Executive Committee to avoid future actions that discourage viable candidates from running for elected offices.
Trust and respect between officials and constituents is critical for the success of the Democratic Party. It is our hope that by sending a strong message of our support for the Democratic Party’s core principles of inclusion, respect and equal opportunity – that we can return our focus to the critical legislative, policy and electoral issues before us, in the interest of building a better community for all.
State Rep. Dwight Dudley
School Board Member Rene Flowers
State Rep. Darryl E. Rouson
School Board Member Linda Lerner
Commissioner Charlie Justice
Council Member Amy Foster
Commissioner Janet Long
Council Member Wengay Newton
Commissioner Ken Welch
Council Member Jim Kennedy
Mayor Pat Gerard
Council Member Steve Kornell
Mayor Sam Henderson
Council Member Karl Nurse
Mayor Rick Kriseman
Council Member Darden Rice
Vice-Mayor Jeff Larsen
Commissioner Michael Smith
Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski
Note – due to time constraints, not all Pinellas Democratic elected officials were able to be contacted for this letter before submission.