District 2 candidates cite interest in the community, value of hard work for county
In any given sea of candidate signs splayed across Manatee County, Dimitrie Denis stands out in his 10-gallon cowboy hat.
The Republican District 2 candidate said he adopted the hat after spending time with black cowboys in Texas, who taught him about what it meant to own land, work hard and be a “true American.”
“Whenever you see me in that hat, that means I’m working hard for Manatee County,” the 31-year-old said.
His Democrat opponent Reggie Bellamy is known in the community as a hard worker, too. The 47-year-old is well-known in the community as the executive director of the Palmetto Youth Center, the heady boy’s basketball coach at Palmetto High and a dean at Buffalo Creek Middle.
Bellamy announced his bid for a county commission seat shortly after Commissioner Charles Smith claimed he was too stretched out to give his full attention to the youth center. Bellamy, however, denies his decision to run for a seat on the board
was a reaction to Smith’s demands that he resign as executive director of the youth center..
“I have been a servant leader my entire life. I have served in various capacities and acquired a unique set of leadership skills,” Bellamy said. “I am a consensus builder. I know how to listen and get things done.”
Denis isn’t so sure about that, he said in an interview with the Bradenton Herald.
“He hasn’t yielded any results through government and doesn’t know the inner workings,” Denis argued. “If you strip him of his titles leading the youth academy and working for the school board, he’s been living in the private sector. He doesn’t know how to go into the community. I do.”
While Denis has never held public office, he and his wife petitioned the county for more than two years to install lights in his Samoset neighborhood. He said holding local government accountable is one of the reasons he stepped into the race.
“There should be no reason why communities that are labeled as undesirables or deplorables — or whatever term you want to use — should be going without lights and sidewalks and basic infrastructure for the children,” Denis said at a recent candidate forum hosted by the Manatee Tiger Bay Club.
Bellamy, a veteran of the U.S. Army, says his top priorities are working with law enforcement to keep the community safe, alleviating local traffic con- gestion and diversifying the local economy with new jobs and a workforce development. Denis said he agreed with his opponent’s platform, but would also like to see an emphasis on public health and a reduction in drug abuse.
Denis said he believes he’s the best candidate to represent not only District 2 but all of Manatee, and he hopes he can reach across party lines to earn votes on Nov. 6.
“Let’s make sure we’re making positive changes and not letting party lines distract us from the main goal, which is to move Manatee County in the right direction, and if that person happens to be a black Republican, then vote him in,” he said.
Since filing to run for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners, Denis has had a brush with the law. In April, he was cited by Florida Highway Patrol for leaving the scene of a crash involving more than $50 in damages. He said the accident happened as he was picking his children up from school.
“I backed into a parked car. I took my kids home first because the teachers know me there and I came back to exchange info,” Denis explained. A trooper couldn’t get a hold of him, though and he was ordered to pay a $363 fine after a court date.
Bellamy’s campaign has brought in $23,000 and spent $11,000, while Denis has raised $8,000 in contributions and spent $6,000. Manatee County’s District 2 encompasses parts of downtown Bradenton, Palmetto and Ellenton.
For more information on each candidate’s platform, visit their campaign websites at Vote4ReggieBellamy.com and facebook.com/VoteDenis4CommissionerDistrict2/.
Democrat Reggie Bellamy, left, is running against Republican Demitrie Denis to represent District 2 on Manatee’s Board of County Commissioners.