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The Scott visit

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

By The Staff

Last Saturday on the downtown square, Rick Scott and other Republican candidates brought the statewide campaign for governor to Marion County. There were some things that stood out, that we feel have to be brought to the attention of the people.

First of all, Scott was impressive. He arrived almost on time, a far cry from what some other national and state politicians do when they are scheduled locally. Afterward, it was announced that he would stay an extra 15 minutes to meet and greet the people. However, he left nearly 45 minutes later, much to the pleasure of the people who gathered to meet him.

But there were other things surrounding the rally that brought up some questions.

School Board candidates Angie Boynton, Ron Crawford and Tom Patrick spoke at the rally. Since this was basically a Republican gathering, that was surprising.

By law, the School Board race is non-partisan.

Boynton even made reference to it in her talk, saying she could not identify with the party. But the trio was there, and Sharon Hagen was not. If this was truly a non-partisan race, shouldn’t she have been included? Or were the Republicans just working to get around the “non-partisan” label.

Later, when Scott was going to speak, all the candidates who had spoken and were on the ballot were invited up to the stage to stand behind the gubernatorial candidate as he addressed the crowd. But at the last minute, controversial School Board member Jackie Porter climbed the stairs and stood at the end of the line with the others.

Why?

She was not on the ballot, she did not speak and, frankly, shouldn’t have been up there. There were other politicians in the crowd, and none of them crashed the party on stage. Why did she? Someone in charge should have asked her to please step down from the stage.

There was also a conversation with one of Scott’s aides, who commented that it was a great turnout “for a town of this size.”

A town of this size? A county of hundreds of thousands of people. She later admitted that this was her first trip to Ocala.

Finally, if you’re familiar with the square, there is a paved open area in front of the stage, with trees surrounding it. Many of those who came had chairs in the shade so they could be comfortable and still hear their candidate.

However, just before Scott spoke, someone decided to ask all the people to abandon their chairs and move up close to the stage. They probably didn’t want the cameras to show Scott speaking to what appeared to be an empty square.

With the heat, though, and the number of senior citizens in the crowd, this wasn’t such a brilliant idea.

But, as the commercial once said, image is everything. In this case image took precedence over the comfort of the crowd, and that’s too bad.