Dis­trict 2 can­di­dates cite in­ter­est in the com­mu­nity, value of hard work for county

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Local - BY RYAN CALLIHAN

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/.

Pro­vided

Demo­crat Reg­gie Bel­lamy, left, is run­ning against Repub­li­can Demitrie De­nis to rep­re­sent Dis­trict 2 on Manatee’s Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers.

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