Watched much of Thursday’s Veterans Day parade in downtown Inverness talking with Patricia Thomas, the retired judge, who told me an amusing story.
Parades are awesome but especially for elected officials who participate. Some ride in the open air, sitting atop the rear seat of a convertible (MUCH harder than it looks to not fall off), while others are behind the wheel. School board folks tend to walk even though there’s a perfectly able school bus following them.
Trish – and just about everybody who knows Judge Thomas knows her as Trish – said she’d be riding in the parade when folks along the parade route would call out the judge’s name. But not HER name.
“Judge Judy! Judge Judy!”
–As I said, politicians love parades and they should. They’re just flat out a lot of fun. Thursday’s political participants included Commissioners Ruthie Davis Shlabach, Holly Davis and Jeff Kinnard; all five school board members and Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel.
And one candidate: County Commission District 2 Republican Diana Finegan, who so far is the only local candidate for any office. Finegan is just hitting on all cylinders. She attends board meetings, pays attention, and is doing her homework. It’s a name to watch.
—Former Commissioner John “JJ” Kenney was master of ceremonies for the 11th Hour Service and I had forgotten what it’s like to hear JJ sing the National Anthem. It’ll stop you in your tracks, that I’ll say.
JJ, by the way, had a pretty straight-forward campaign slogan when he ran against, and defeated, Gary Bartell. It was 2010 and Bartell had served 20 years in office.
JJ’s approach: “I ain’t him.”
It wasn’t that JJ was a toss-in candidate. He was the county’s veterans service officer and had solid chops in the community. But he also leaned heavily on the “time for a change” approach and, in this case, it worked.
While in office, JJ also famously referred to Duke Energy as a “bunch of thugs” in 2012 during a huge tax dispute that cost the county millions of dollars. It’s safe to say Duke and the county get along just fine these days.
And it’s awesome knowing JJ can still bring shivers to the crowd on a warm day by singing his love for his country.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.