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Justin Bean delivers powerful message about being a Republican in the time of Trump

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Like Rick Baker, Justin Bean is a Republican running this November in the municipal elections for St. Petersburg, a very Democratic-centric city.

But unlike Baker, Bean is actually talking about Donald Trump.

In a message originally posted Friday night on his Facebook page, then issued by his campaign Tuesday, Bean, who is running for St. Pete City Council District 6, says that he’s been disappointed by Trump since the nation’s 45th president took office in January.

The 30-year-old St. Pete businessperson acknowledges attending Trump’s inauguration in January, but he’s been disenchanted ever since.

“Donald Trump was not my choice for President but, after his election, I joined all Americans in hoping he would do great things,” Bean writes. “Unfortunately, this President has fallen short of the hopes I had for him, especially when it comes to his moves to keep transgender persons from serving in our armed forces.”

Despite those “difficulties,” Bean chooses to stay in the Republican Party because he feels he “can do more good for the St. Petersburg community as a strong voice inside the Republican Party than as another Independent or Democrat.”

Seven Democrats and just one Republican — Ed Montanari — make up the current St. Petersburg City Council.  Though the city’s municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, in truth, they have become very partisan affairs. Both political parties are seriously invested in the outcome of the mayoral election.

The Florida Democratic Party has hired staffers to aid the Rick Kriseman campaign. With so few Democrats in the Legislature and the state Cabinet, the FDP knows that much of their bench comes from big-city mayors. Big cities also have a concentration of Democratic voters.

Bean’s entire statement is here:

“As the media has noted, I am a Republican. I believe in limited government, personal responsibility and individual freedom.

“I believe all Americans should be treated equally. This is why I am a firm ally of the LGBTQ community and support the efforts of Equality Florida.

“I have serious concerns about the effects of climate change on our slice of paradise, especially as it pertains to the rising costs of homeowners and flood insurance for residents in my district, the city and the state.

“I believe government should make it easier for people to be good stewards of the environment, which is why I am a member of the complete streets committee.

“In recent months, it has been difficult to be a Republican. Donald Trump was not my choice for President but, after his election, I joined all Americans in hoping he would do great things. I even accepted an opportunity to attend the inauguration this past January because I had always wanted to witness one. I highly recommend all Americans, regardless of political stance, attend an inauguration, at least once.

“Unfortunately, this President has fallen short of the hopes I had for him, especially when it comes to his moves to keep transgender persons from serving in our armed forces.

“Despite these difficulties, I remain a Republican because I feel I can do more good for the St. Petersburg community as a strong voice inside the Republican Party than as another Independent or Democrat.

“If the two parties keep fighting each other from the far extremes, then we will see nothing but the gridlock and animosity we are witnessing around the country and here at home.

“I am excited about the campaign ahead. I believe my opponent and I have very different ideas on how we can move the city of St. Petersburg forward and I look forward to a vigorous debate on the issues that matter. I want a St. Pete that works for everyone and I hope you will join me.”

With partisanship very much a part of this 2017 campaign (whether it should be or not), Bean’s missive is crucial in calling on voters to judge him for who he is, not just because he has an “R” next to his name (which of course, won’t be listed on the ballot).

Bean will face Democrat Gina Driscoll Nov. 7.

 

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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