Why I Support Shayan Elahi and Why You Should Too
The following was submitted by Doug Head, former Chair, Orange County Democratic Party:
Voters in House District 49 in Northeast Orange should have had an opportunity to hear from the Democratic primary candidates in debate. They did not, because the Joe Saunders Campaign repeatedly declined invitations to engage. Saunders felt his case was better made with money and mailers, than in a forum of give and take. This is a reasonable strategy if you have more money, but it does not do credit to the process. So, some of this campaign has degenerated into marketing about facts.
I started out as a supporter of Shayan – so it is no surprise that I stayed there, but the facts which have come forward in the campaign have convinced me, more than ever, that he is the right choice.
1. Commitment – Shayan has a breadth of experience which exceeds that of Joe. He has been involved, at a high level, in many progressive issues and has taken on the establishment of Orlando when needed. From Food not Bombs to Occupy, from civil liberties issues like Trayvon Martin’s death, to Redistricting, he has been willing to spend time and money and effort for progress. Joe has been effective and focused on gay rights, in many parts of the State, which is his paid job. He has been active in supporting Arts Education in Osceola, where his partner teaches. He has not shown much leadership on other issues.
2. Campaign Integrity – Resume puffing is a political art. I have been a long-time donor to Planned Parenthood. I am amazed by the campaign assertions of Joe’s role in Planned Parenthood, as Joe joined that Board AFTER he announced and has since claimed that he “kept the doors open” there. The organization is NOT on the verge of collapse. He argues that he is pro-choice, but so is Shayan. Joe has been abusing this short term credential for weeks, claiming his centrality, when he has not been centered on this issue. What is his position on the huge range of other issues? Unknown because of no real debate. Shayan poses for photos with his wife, and his dog and occasionally refers to his mother, who lives with them. Shayan is running his campaign with local activists and UCF graduates. The slick marketing professionals with high fees who have spent Joe’s Statewide money have led him to mislead with phrases like “Joe and his family,” juxtaposed with photos of Joe, with kids who are not his. This is just bizarre for a GLBT activist.
3. Knowledge of the District – Joe asserts that he and his family have lived in “East Orange County” for 15 years, though he has, for many years, been living and voting by sea world. His activism has been in Osceola County. He “moved” and registered to vote and voted in District 49 at his brother’s house on Friday, yesterday. The 15 year residence calculation seems to be a sum of the residency of his family member plus the years Joe spent as a Student at UCF, because he never lived there otherwise. This is just misleading.
Because Joe’s campaign is run by pricy consulting professionals with national campaign ties it has been slick and non-specific. The production of flyers and mailers has stuffed the mailboxes of voters with information which is colorfully designed and expensive, but not accurate. Shayan Elahi has run a campaign which is focused on the community, where he has spent many years as an actual resident. He stands for progress across the board for all. I urge you to support Shayan with your vote. Like most of those who endorsed Joe, I don’t vote there, but I do know what happens in campaigns and I believe that Shayan will be the strongest candidate in November. Please Vote for Shayan Elahi in the race for State House District 49. We all need a winner in Tallahassee for this District.