Pinellas Democratic Elected Officials

May 12, 2014

Dear Constituents,

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.

One Reply to “Pinellas Democratic Elected Officials”

  1. Vic says:

    I believe this is certainly a step in the right direction, however it’s unfortunate that Chairman Hanisee against the better judgment of his peers can not find the strength to compose an apology. While an apology to Reverend Sykes may lessen the sting of denying his candidacy hopes, in earnest the undersigned should consider assisting Hanisee (who may hold certain biases) with forwarding a contingency of viable candidates for the ballot.

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