The Hazel Baker Community Center was packed Monday night, as United States Senator Rick Scott visited Havana for a civic education program hosted by the Gadsden County Republican Party.
The room had standing room only as citizens of all parties filed in to meet Senator Scott and listen to an update on his efforts in representing Florida in Washington D.C.
The Monday night meeting was filled with elected officials from all over Gadsden County.
Attending the meeting were: Sheriff Morris Young with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, board member Leroy McMillan and Superintendent Elijah Key with the Gadsden County School Board, Chief Tracy Smith with the Havana Police Department, Town Manager Kendrah Wilkerson and council members Nick Bert, Lawrence Reed, and Tabatha Nelson with the Town of Havana, Alonzetta Simpkins with the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners, Michael Brown and Vincent Moore with the Gadsden County Soil and Water Conservation District, as wells as representatives from Havana Main Street, Gadsden Arts, The Havana Garden Club, Gadsden County Farm Bureau, Florida IFAS, Gadsden Cattlemen’s Association, Chattahoochee Woman’s Club, Ochlockonee River Kennel Club, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Tallahassee Community College, and Big Bend Hospice.
The Havana Police Department provided additional security for the senator during his visit to the town.
After a recognition of the attending elected officials in the room, local minister Stuart Upton of the Centenary United Methodist Church of Quincy provided a brief message and then a blessing over the meeting.
“We appreciate you [Senator Scott] coming and letting the people of Gadsden County see, and hear, and know a little bit more about you and your work, and the task of representing all of us in Washington,” stated Upton.
Pastor Upton then provided a message that encouraged the gathered body of citizens to remember to see one another without the lines of political bias.
“Since moving to Gadsden County three years ago, it was immediately evident to me how involved the people of this county are in the political process, especially locally,” said Upton.
Upton encouraged the gathered group to remember in their political and daily lives that coming together as a community means coming together in groups of diverse thoughts and beliefs – and that diversity does not make enemies of opposing thoughts.
“Coming to the table with our opponents is not the same as endorsing every or any idea they espouse,” Upton concluded.
From there, Scott was welcomed to the podium, where he opened his meeting with a civics course on his current process in Washington, and then detailed some of his current policy priorities.
“I think there are three important things that government can do for you: one, give you a chance to succeed financially, and get people jobs. The most important thing you can do for anybody is get them a darn job,” said Scott, emphasizing the importance of keeping the workplace open.
“Number two, we need to keep [kids] safe and get them a good education. It takes good people, which we have in this state; we have great educators,” said Scott.
“Then, the third thing is, everyone wants to live in a safe community,” Scott added, noting that low crime rates benefit everyone through providing a safe place to live and play, but also through the potential for new businesses and industries who seek safe regions for development.
“So, here is what I can do – I cannot solve a problem I don’t know about,” said Scott.
He encouraged the gathered citizens to let him know when problems arise, so that he and his team can work together with local officials and policy makers on getting those problems fixed.
“It’s your job to tell me where your problems are.”
Finally, Scott placed an emphasis on his office’s ability to aid constituents with their civic problems.
Scott’s offices can assist Floridians with problems that require an additional liaison between citizens and a government office, as well as student resources, tours around Washington D.C., grants, and more.
At the meeting that night, Scott’s staff was on hand with a help desk to assist citizens with any pressing issues they might be having.
After his presentation, the Gadsden County Republican Party opened the floor to questions for Senator Scott.
Questions raised that night touched on various concerns, such as the current social policies of the United States military, Chinese influence and power in America, and border and immigration policies.
Each of the weighty questions received an explanation, sometimes a reassurance and other times a word of caution, from Senator Scott.
Overall, Scott reminded citizens of the importance of electing governors and a president who are capable and proven responsive to the concerns and demands of their constituents and the needs of the country.
“I think, if you look at the big issues of this country, we have got to figure out retirement benefits, we’ve got to figure out health care, we’ve got to figure out immigration, and we have got to figure out the debt,” said Scott. “It is hard to lead through the legislature. You have got to lead through the state and you have to lead through the governor’s office. In the federal government, you have to lead through the presidency. It will take electing someone who is hell-bent on solving these problems and bring everybody together to do it.”
The issues facing America are “not partisan” issues, Scott reiterated. “None of this stuff is partisan, so we have got to figure it out.”
For those in the room, Scott said that everyone should be holding their elected officials accountable.
“You only have one vote,” said Scott. “You guys [voters] are not vocal enough. You should be saying ‘what the hell are you doing’.”
According to Scott, when you buy something from a store and it doesn’t meet your expectations, you return it – and the same should be done for elected officials. He reminded them that if elected officials are not making good on campaign promises throughout their term, then voters should not continue to vote them into office.
Overall, Scott concluded with an optimistic outlook on America’s future, despite its looming problems.
“I am optimistic about the future. We are having more problems, and people are going to have to figure it out,” said Senator Scott. “I am optimistic that we are going to solve these things.”
Senator Rick Scott’s staff can be reached at rickscott.senate.gov and citizens can view his website for more information about how staff can provide resources to Floridians.
Senator Scott is currently serving his first term in the United States Senate, and will be seeking reelection to the senate in the 2024 election cycle.
Prior to his senatorial service, Scott was Florida’s governor for two terms.
The Gadsden County Republican Party’s monthly civic education programs are held with the goal of better informing citizens of Gadsden County and neighboring communities on civic issues and processes.
All are welcome to attend the monthly programs, and the programs are provided on a nonpartisan basis.
Information on upcoming meetings can be found through the group’s Facebook page, facebook.com/GadsdenGOP
Ashley Hunter – Gadsden County News Corp