by Sheila James
Mayo, FL – Mayo is a small North Florida town that sits in the crook of the panhandle. Around 1,500 people call the community home. And for all its diversity, charm, and easy living, tourists are few and so are candidates for statewide office. But, Congresswoman Val Demings, who is running for the US Senate showed up for a visit. The former Orlando police chief toured the community with her friend Lafayette County Sheriff Brian N. Lamb, a popular Republican.
She knows the unique profile of the neglected rural communities. This is her fifth trip to the region in a few months where she applies strategies from the old-school playbook. Her colleague Congressman Al Lawson, also a Black Democrat says she’s on the right path. Lawson born and raised in Midway has represented over 13 conservative panhandle counties for nearly 40 years winning with overwhelming support. He is the only Black elected official to lay claim to that distinction in modern history. He says if you show up and listen, they will support you.” They like you to come and listen not talk to them through commercials.” Democrats running statewide often lose by thin margins when rural voters could easily fill that void. “I grew up in a rural area and those people want the same thing as everyone else…opportunity.”
Economic opportunity tops Demings’ pledge to voters.” My parents worked hard all their lives to give their children the opportunity to succeed. Economic opportunity is essential to our community’s growth and prosperity.” At the Economic Equity Forum in Miami’s Richmond Heights that goal was the main discussion. It was also the thread connecting Sopchoppy, Mayo, Tampa, Jacksonville, Quincy, Gainesville, and Ft. Lauderdale. Good paying jobs and equal pay are part of the gains brought by economic opportunity according to the congresswoman.
Newly elected to Congress, the lady from Mandarin on the St Johns River has become a democratic star. Not only was she a prominent member of the panel that impeached former President Donald Trump, but she was on the shortlist for Vice President to Joe Biden. Now as a provocative candidate for the US Senate she is the subject of network news shows and prestigious magazines. Val Demings is featured in the July/August edition of Vanity Fair. The story is branded by a photo of her confidently perched on her red Harley Davidson on a dirt crossroad. The symbolism of the picture was crafted by renowned photographer Annie Liebowitz. The article says Val Demings “Holds the key to delivering on the promise of America.” It starts in Florida.