Pamela Castellana Guest columnist, Florida Today
I was raised in a Republican household. I remember my mom sending me, as a 10-year-old, to school in red, white and blue on Election Day 1972, with a white elephant on a pendant around my neck. I didn’t have any idea of the significance at the time, and none of us could have known how that election would shape our country’s political landscape.
I have always been particularly interested in what I now know are social justice issues. As a teenager I just thought of it as living the Christian gospels, caring for the poor, the needy the homeless and immigrants among us. So I registered as a Democrat on my 18th birthday because of the social justice leanings of the party.
Jennifer Jenkins (right), seconds after finding out she won the Brevard School Board District 3 seat, hugs her husband, Sam, and her campaign manager, Pamela Castellana.
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 brought a lot of people out of their armchairs and into the realm of politics from both political divides for so many reasons. Blame social media, blame the exceptionally unique candidacy Trump provided. Whatever the reason, we are “different” today. The average voter is much more aware of issues involving them, but not always how their vote matters.
I spent the last four years learning the ins and outs of our local politics, and was elected to the position of chair of Brevard Democrats in November 2020. Since then I’ve seen both the best and worst Brevard has to offer.
I’ve seen our long-term congressman, a man who ran as a moderate (and for whom I voted in the past) dissent in the certification of Arizona’s fair election results, a choice that contributed to “The Big Lie” and the disastrous events of Jan. 6, 2021. I’ve seen that same man utter a juvenile, veiled pejorative of our president from the congressional floor. I’ve seen him vote over and over in ways that hurt the citizens of Brevard County.
I’ve seen locally elected state representatives run roughshod over average citizens as well as other equally elected officials, using their “bully pulpit” to indeed, bully their constituents. I’ve seen them lie, cheat and attempt to steal our free and fair elections right here in Brevard County.
I’ve seen vulgarities at once-boring school board meetings and more.
And yet I remain hopeful.
I’ve seen my Republican neighbors share from their abundance with others in need. I’ve seen my Republican family mourn in love as we lost our patriarch and matriarch. I’ve shared meals with dearly beloved Republican friends. I know we can work together for the betterment of our community.
Looking into 2022, I see political battle lines being drawn, but they don’t have to be actual battle lines.
I’ve spent 26 years here in Brevard County, listening to my friends, to new friends and strangers, listening to their hopes and fears, their dreams and aspirations. It is my concerted goal to provide Democratic candidates for every level of government who will work with their Republican counterparts to meet the needs of their communities. Working with a team of super-dedicated patriotic Americans, including several military veterans, retired teachers, defense contractors — in short, Brevardians from every walk of life — we will fight fiercely for our values of equal economic, criminal and educational justice. We will fight to defend access to and improve our public school system. We will fight to save our manatees — and our entire lagoon. We will fight for economic justice so that no one wants for basics such as food, shelter and affordable health care in our county.
Brevard Democrats chair Pamela Castellana, right, pictured before the 2020 election, says: “Not voting for candidates Brevard Democrats promote does not make you my enemy, in spite of what a very loud, very small group of voices says. It simply makes you my political opponent. In this new era, I will listen to anyone with a goal of joint solutions.”
All the same, not voting for candidates Brevard Democrats promote does not make you my enemy, in spite of what a very loud, very small group of voices says. It simply makes you my political opponent. In this new era, I will listen to anyone with a goal of joint solutions. I will meet with anyone with good intentions for our community and I’ll listen without prejudging. Anyone.
No matter how hard and loud my political opponents try and push me and my party down, I’m not pushing back. I’m pushing ahead — and I’m not quitting.
Because our beautiful, unique county deserves far better than the ugliness it’s been served in our partisan infighting.