Parrish residents had the opportunity to better know their candidates for the Manatee County Commission and Manatee County School Board over pancakes Saturday morning.
For about 90, minutes candidates for school board and county commission addressed the roughly 200 residents gathered outside the Railroad Museum in Parrish. Candidates stood aboard one train while residents listened and enjoyed a pancake breakfast.
Despite the tent sheltering attendees, nearly everyone in the crowd sat fanning themselves with hand fans provided as the sweltering heat reached uncomfortable temperatures.
Participating candidates included:
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▪ Corie Holmes, Ronald Reagan and Priscilla Whisenant Trace seeking the District 1 commission seat.
▪ Betsy Benac and Jack Richardson seeking the at-large commission seat.
▪ Xtavia K. Bailey, Gina K. Messenger, Linda S. Schaich and Edward Viltz seeking the District 1 school board seat.
▪ Charles S. Conoley, Dave Miner and Misty Martin Servia seeking the District 3 school board seat.
▪ John Colon seeking the District 5 school board seat.
Parrish resident Terese Michaud, 56, said she came to learn more about the local candidates.
“It was really interesting,” Michaud said. “I was really glad to come and see these people in person rather than just read their bios.”
Michaud said all school board candidates were good, but struggled compared with Bailey. Overall, she said she enjoyed getting to know about each of their backgrounds.
A director for a local home health agency, Michaud said she majored in political science and economics and was interested in hearing candidates discuss the issues.
“When the commission candidates got up there,” however, things weren’t as nice, she said.
“The fact that Corie went with a little low blow ... when he said (Mike) Armstrong helped support (Trace), who is a family friend. I’m not sure this was the place for that.”
The program put on by the Parrish Civic Association was cut short when a thunderstorm approached, sending most residents dashing for their cars. Those who remained took a train ride with the candidates.
Membership director Cookie Jordan said they thought the turnout was good, but was disappointed so many Florida residents ran at the hint of rain.
“We had more questions to ask and we would have kept going if people hadn’t started leaving,” Jordan said.
Offering breakfast, she knew would prove successful in drawing a crowd, and she was pleased it had.
“They don’t know who the candidates are and this gave them the opportunity to hear them talk,” Jordan said. “We just wanted to bring them to hear instead of them chasing a rally.”