Clay, Putnam, Bradford County updates

by Kate Ellison

Putnam Democrats  kick-off election 2018

The November meeting of the Putnam Democratic Party marked the start of the 2018 election season with a potluck dinner and planning meeting. Several candidates spoke, and it is evident that the 2018 primary season will be lively on both sides of the isle. Stay tuned for more details and check for future events on the party’s web page at

More events in early evening hours are planned so that students and working volunteers can come. Putnam County is ground zero in the coming election.

Chairman Rich Segall said, “there will be many opportunities to give input on the party’s activities to get out the vote, to provide candidates with visibility, and assignments that do not require face to face interactions with potential voters. The county’s rural nature requires creative ideas on how to reach voters since traditional door to door canvassing is difficult, and many times impossible.”

Registered Democrats and those unable to register for legal reasons are welcome at Democratic meetings, and forms will be available for those wishing to register or change parties at all events.

The 2018 elections will determine the direction of Florida for the next decade. The ballot will be filled with offices and issues important to all voters. From governor through state and federal legislators, to county offices, this election could either break up or cement the direction our state is going.

The two political parties are not your father’s parties any more. Newly inspired voters have the potential to change the outcomes of this election.

Important Amendments to the Florida Constitution will be on the ballot. The governor and Florida Supreme Court appointed a very conservative commission to write these changes, and voters will decide their fate in the 2018 election. Citizens’ petitions could place a few amendments on the ballot, such as restoring the ability to vote for ex-felons.

This time the election could affect our lives in surprising ways, so understanding the issues and candidates is crucial. Collectively, these offices and amendments will have significant impact on our county and state-wide.

Putnam County faces significant challenges. Citizens can make their voices heard by getting involved now and throughout 2018. For volunteers coming from outside Putnam County it is a chance to insure conservative rural areas do not adversely affect outcomes.

Keeping it lively in the Lakes area

The Democratic Women’s Club of the Lakes Area (DWCLA) advances progressive Democratic ideas and engages progressive folks in our Lakes Region, centered around Melrose. Residents of Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Putnam counties attend our meetings. Often it is difficult to connect with like-minded people in conservative rural areas, and this group sprang up to fill a void.

The Democratic Women’s Club of Florida is issue-focused. Every year, a comprehensive list of the bills making progress (or held up) in the Florida legislature is developed. Our positions and policies are available there.

True to our name, the DWCLA (Lakes Area) has adopted a water policy, and follows education bills, voting and equal access bills, gun safety, and of course, healthcare (including women’s reproductive health). Democratic candidates present their ideas at our meetings, and speakers are invited to talk about ex-felons voting rights, water issues, letter-writing campaigns, and women as leaders, to name a few.

Because Florida is governed by extreme conservatives, it makes sense to participate in the strongest efforts to reign in their excesses. The Democratic Women’s Club represents these efforts.

The next meetings are on Nov. 16 and Dec. 14 at 6:30pm at the Melrose Historic Homemakers’ Club, 25728 Park Street, Melrose. After the holidays, the DWCLA will regularly meet on the fourth Thursday of each month. We are a women’s group, but we welcome men who share our ideals.  We hope to see you at our next meeting. 

You can visit us on Facebook:

Finding progressive people in Bradford County

The power structure of Bradford County is dominated by Republicans, and often their employees hesitate even to reveal their party affiliation. However, other voices continue to speak up through grassroots efforts.

A small band of about a dozen dedicated citizens continue to operate the Democratic Party in Bradford County. They live in most areas of the county and come together in Starke to raise issues important to everyone: better public schools, more jobs, quality affordable healthcare, social justice, and environmental justice. Democrats everywhere are changing, striving to make the Party relevant in our daily lives.

Meetings are open to all Democrats and progressive allies. The last meeting of 2017 will be Nov. 27 at 7pm at the Capital City Bank meeting room, on Hwy 301 in Starke (just north of the Santa Fe Andrews Center). Regular meetings are held there on the fourth Monday of each month. Find us on Facebook,

People who are looking for a specific issue to inspire them can dig into the Second Chances petition effort. Citizens across Florida are working to collect nearly one million signatures by the end of December. The Bradford County group, which also covers Union County, meets on the second Thursday of the month at 6pm in the Bradford County Public Library, 456 W. Pratt St, Starke, Florida (or search @SecondChanceBradford on Facebook).

Phosphate Madness

The permit applications to mine phosphate have been submitted by HPS II in both Union and Bradford Counties. Union County considers the application invalid because there is a moratorium in place. HPS II is threatening law suits due to excessive delays, but most people believe these suits have no merit.

The permit application in Bradford County was submitted nearly two years ago, and has languished with nearly no action until last spring when the Bradford Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) published a request for proposals to evaluate the permit application by experts. Only one proposal was received, by Onsite Environmental Consultants out of Jacksonville, at a cost of about $53,000.

Eventually, at the October meeting, the BOCC decided to accept this proposal, with the hope that both sides of the mining issue would contribute equally to this expense. HPS II is willing to pay their half, but mining opponents have not officially responded. However, opponents who hear about it say, “Hell no!”

Citizens who oppose bringing a phosphate mine to our area do not need a study to tell them what a bad idea it would be. There will be a formal hearing on the permit application, as yet unscheduled. Experts and lawyers have been hired for this hearing. There is no funding, and no need, to pay for experts the BOCC thinks they need.

Citizens opposing the mine meet monthly on the second Tuesday of the month at 6pm, at 165 SW 4th Ave. in Lake Butler. Keep up with news on Facebook by searching @nomining4phosphateBU.


Kate Ellison, Chair, Bradford County Democratic Party
352-283-5536 –

Fran Rossano, State Committeewoman, Putnam Democratic Party Democratic Women’s Club of the Lakes Area
352-278-6243 –

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