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Democrats campaign at Thornton Park Pride event 

June 28, 2024 at 10:29:25 PM

Andrea Charur


Drag queen Trixie Deluxxe entertains at the Rainbow Democrats' Pride Month event at Jack & Honey's, held with Orange County Democrats. The LGBTQ organization endorsed Wes Hodge for Supervisor of Elections and Melissa Vickers for Public Defender.

Orange County Democratic candidates Wednesday wrapped up the last week of Pride Month at Jack & Honey’s restaurant in Thornton Park with drag performances and bingo sponsored by the Rainbow Democrats, the organization that promotes LGBTQ+ candidates and allies. 

On hand to keep the evening rolling with their sharp, sarcastic humor were drag queens and real-life marrieds Trixie Deluxxe and Sheila From Accounting

Naturally, the candidates couldn’t let the performers have all the mic time. Here’s what they had to say between songs and bingo games. Comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Denied reinstatement by the Florida Supreme Court after being ousted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monique Worrell campaigns to be re-elected to her former job as state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Monique Worrell

Candidate for State Attorney, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

Worrell was elected state attorney in 2020 but removed from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis  because he claimed that she was “neglecting her duty to faithfully prosecute.” DeSantis replaced her with Andrew Bain. Worrell petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to be reinstated on the grounds that the governor’s reasoning was vague. But the justices, five of whom were DeSantis appointees, recently ruled 6 to 1 to deny her request. Worrell will face Bain and the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 5 general election. 

“Our voting rights have been infringed upon; our right to have our children taught the truth in schools has been infringed upon; our right to read books that hold the truth has been infringed upon; the rights of the LGBTQ+ community to just be…has been infringed upon, a woman’s reproductive rights have been infringed upon by people who don’t have ovaries.

[Andrew Bain] cannot be appointed by an authoritarian dictator. [Bain] cannot steal a seat and then expect us to believe that we can trust you to prosecute fairly and justly. The seat that he’s sitting in is stolen not just from me but from the entire community.” 

Sheila From Accounting listens as Lenora Easter makes her case for Public Defender. "I know how to create and I know how to innovate."

Lenora Easter

Candidate for Public Defender, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

Easter, an assistant public defender for 15 years who now works at the nonprofit Partners for Justice, faces fellow Democrat Melissa Vickers in the Aug. 20 primary. The winner will become the public defender. 

“I love what I do as a public defender. This is my passion. This is not just a job for me. If you look me up, you will see that I’m not just a manager, I’m a leader. I know how to create, and I know how to innovate. And that’s why Bob Wesley [public defender, stepping down after 24 years] has endorsed me, because he recognizes that I’m the one that can elevate this office to the next level.” 

Jason Willis: "I’ve seen a lot of appointments by our governor and previous governors. I want to be elected by the people."

Jason Willis

Candidate for Circuit Judge, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

Criminal defense/personal injury attorney Willis is running against incumbent Tanya Wilson in the nonpartisan Aug. 20 primary. The winner will become the judge. 

“I have seen our judiciary in this community change over the last 10 years that I’ve been an attorney. And I’m not happy with those changes. I’ve seen a lot of appointments by our governor and previous governors. I want to be elected by the people. Depending on how much money you have or your background or your status or what you look like, the laws apply differently. It shouldn’t be like that. The law should be applied equally to everybody.”

Rainbow Democrats President Matthew Inman, left, endorses Wes Hodge for supervisor of elections.

Wes Hodge

Candidate for Orange County Supervisor of Elections

Hodge faces Democrats Karen Castor Dentel and Dan Helm in the Aug. 20 primary. The winner of the primary will then face independent Cynthia Harris in the Nov. 5 general election. Hodge was endorsed by Rainbow Democrats.

“If I’m elected, I will be the first openly LGBTQ constitutional officer in the state of Florida. And when I’m elected I will also be the  first openly LGBTQ supervisor of elections in the country. 

“Over the past month, 16 candidates and elected officials came to me and asked me to help them with their qualifying paperwork, not because we’re friends, not because Oh hey, we need some help, because they know I am the most experienced and most qualified person to be the next supervisor of elections for Orange County. 

I want to bring a program [to Orange County] where we are working to increase our engagement and outreach in our underrepresented communities. We just had a special election [in Orlando] where our turnout was eight percent. We have to do better than that as a community.” 

Melissa Vickers: It is very important that we have someone in this role that is ready to go day one, and that is me."

Melissa Vickers

Candidate for Public Defender, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

Vickers spent 21 years in public defense — 18 years in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office where she climbed the ranks to become the second in command as chief assistant public defender. She is now in private practice at Mandell Law. She squares off against Lenora Easter in the Aug. 20 primary. Vickers was endorsed by Rainbow Democrats.

“I started at a public defender’s office when I was 18, interviewing inmates in jail all day, everyday on my summer breaks from college. It was there in those jails that I learned that people are better than the worst thing they’ve ever done. It is very important that we have someone in this role that is ready to go day one, and that is me. Because essentially, I’ve run the office before, and I can do it again. My experience is unmatched. My passion for this work is unparalleled.”

Marsha Summersill: "These laws are unacceptable."

Marsha Summersill

Candidate for Florida House District 39

Summersill, an Orlando divorce and custody attorney and forensic child abuse/sexual abuse expert who’s worked with the Department of Children and Family Services, faces Republican incumbent Rep. Doug Bankson in the Nov. 5 general election. District 39 encompasses parts of Winter Garden, Apopka and Seminole County. 

“The one thing I cannot fathom is that [a 13-year-old victim of sexual abuse who received an abortion] would now have to ask permission from a politician on whether or not she could get proper healthcare to address her victimization, to address her future. Right now, [with the state’s six-week abortion ban in place] there would be no way she would get the care she needed. These laws are unacceptable. I cannot understand how we got this far back in our society, but there is no way we can remain there.”

Tim Ayers, president of the Orange County Democratic Black Caucus with Kelly Semrad, candidate for Orange County Commission, District 5.

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