We need to stop campaigning and talk about environmental leadership.
Today I was contacted by a campaign supporter and was told that you have announced on television that you have suspended your campaign to address Hurricane Michael relief. While my supporter knows that I have been addressing Florida’s environmental challenges for some time she encouraged me to do it more publicly to compete with you. There is a better way.
While I applaud you for focusing on this tragedy I would like to encourage you to grow, and extend yourself further.
Real leaders quietly lead during challenging times. They don’t turn tragedy into photo-ops.
Five weeks ago Red Tide hit Pinellas hard. Leaders said it was the worst they have ever seen. In Pinellas the air and water has been toxic. Schools stopped letting children play outside because the air was so bad; fish are dying by the “hundreds of tons;” small businesses are struggling as tourists stay home; and workers along our coast are losing money and are struggling to afford rent. I know one mother who sent her daughter away from the coast while the Hurricane Michael passed by because she was afraid of how the wind-driven toxic air would damage the health of her special needs child.
Kathleen we have had an environmental tragedy on our hands for five weeks. Where have you been?
At the first sign of Red Tide I stopped fundraising to listen to my community’s needs. I spent time interviewing workers on the front lines of the cleanup effort, shop owners who only made $15 in sales all day and local fishermen who could no longer fish because their headaches were too bad from the toxicity. But I didn’t turn it into a photo-op.
Our community is getting the short end of the stick on Red Tide recovery.
Do you know that the disaster loans small businesses are being given is at an 18 percent rate? That means someone is getting rich at their expense. Do you know that Pinellas lifted the fertilizer ban as Red Tide reached our shores? That means we are pouring gasoline on a burning fire because fertilizers feed harmful algal blooms. Do you know that south of us, of all the people tested for the presence of harmful cyanobacteria toxins in their nasal passageways 100% tested positive? Do you realize that the EPA says these toxins can cause nerve and liver damage? Do you realize that the state currently has no uniform way to quantitatively test air quality and properly inform the public? Do you realize our community has had a crisis on its hands for five weeks?
After the Red Tide tragedy happened, I reached out to national legal and policy experts regarding the health of our water. I organized a town hall meeting to bring constituents from across the political spectrum together and come up with a detailed plan of action and then I drafted a policy proposal to make it happen. Also, as a recent cancer survivor, I did this as the toxic air in my own beachfront neighborhood brought back painful nerve damage that I sustained during chemotherapy.
What did you do?
You canceled multiple public speaking engagements with me to discuss the impact of Red Tide and other issues.
Even as I publicly called you out for this you continued to hide.
One of those speaking engagements was with a chamber of commerce that represents businesses hit by Red Tide. Why would you not face your constituents during such a critical time? Could it be because you are ashamed of your record on beach privatization, fracking and taking money from big polluters? Were you afraid I would bring this up?
Instead you made up a lie. When you cancelled one of our debates you sent copies of the Tampa Bay Times’ hit pieces about me to the debate organizer and you told him that you are a mental health professional (you aren’t). You told him that in your professional opinion you don’t think I’m stable and that you are afraid to be in the same room as me–all 100 pounds of me. (If you were a mental health professional you would know that making such claims is a legal and ethical violation). While you hid, you paid for the internet ad, “TheRealAmyKedron” so that you could spread more misinformation about me. Earlier in the campaign you promised me you would stick to the issues and not engage in negative campaigning. I’m still sticking to the issues.
But worst of all, you kept campaigning. You sent e-mail appeals to raise more money for yourself during this tragedy. Last week someone hosted a fancy fundraiser for you at $1000 per ticket while your community struggled. It is still struggling. But during this time you raised tens of thousands of dollars.
It wasn’t until Tampa Bay Times reporter, Mark Puente, tried to call me out for being outspent last week that I quietly announced that I had suspended my campaign fundraising and many appearances to focus on helping my community instead. I didn’t politicize tragedy. This is “Sensible Leadership,” Kathleen.
Kathleen Peters I call on you to give the money you raised during the five weeks of the Red Tide crisis back to your donors and tell them to donate it to Hurricane Michael and Red Tide relief instead. Or perhaps donate the funds you have left over at the end of your race. You have far out-raised me so you have nothing to worry about. It is not right to hide behind one tragedy to avoid dealing with another tragedy that your state voting record helped create.
Also Kathleen, I call on you to do something about Red Tide.
Apologize for your past record on not protecting our shores and vow to do better. Vow to stop taking dirty fossil fuel money directly or through your PACs as you have. Pledge to the public that you will adopt, implement and enforce my Red Tide Plan if you are elected to office. Tell your donors to help set up a fund to implement the Red Tide Plan and assist families, businesses workers and the environment long-term.
Let’s suspend both of our campaigns and spend the rest of campaign season addressing the tragedy in our community together. My campaign slogan is #ComeTogetherRightNow and I would be happy to put politics aside and work with you on bi-partisan leadership to leave a positive legacy in our community.
This is “Sensible Leadership,” Kathleen. I hope you agree.
Dr. Amy Kedron