85 F
The Villages
Monday, May 27, 2024

Politics collide as Democrats encounter Villagers for Trump members at congressman’s office

Horns were blaring, slogans were shouted and tempers occasionally boiled over Monday afternoon as Villages Democrats ran head-on into members of Villagers for Trump while caravanning by golf cart to Congressman Daniel Webster’s office at the government annex building on County Road 466.

Village of Pine Ridge residents Mark and Arlene Lehew made their views known Monday as Democrats in a golf cart parade made their way to Congressman Daniel Webster’s office to deliver letters and postcards in protest of his decision to vote against the impeachment of President Trump.

The Democrats met at Barnes & Noble in Lake Sumter Landing and then made the journey to Webster’s office to show their disdain with his recent vote against the impeachment of President Trump. They estimated they had just shy of 200 golf carts, most of which were decked out in a variety of signs.

Waiting for them on the other side of the bridge over Lake Sumter, however, were 200-plus Villagers for Trump members and area Republicans, many sporting signs with various slogans printed on them and clothing showing their support for the president. They gathered long before the Democrats arrived and staged a mini-rally of sorts outside the annex building and at the nearby roundabout.

A few minutes later, however, whistles were blowing and cries of “Dump Trump!” rang out as the Democrats maneuvered their golf carts into the annex parking lot and back out again for the journey back to Lake Sumter Landing. Those were followed by chants of “We stand with Dan!” as Villagers for Trump members waved signs and showed their support for their congressman.

Things remained civil for the most part, although tempers sometimes flared as signs were stuck inside golf carts or in the faces of those standing along the multi-modal path. One golf cart passenger stuck her middle finger out as she passed by Villagers for Trump members waving banners. And some of those shouting at the Democrats compared them with communists and “Stalin’s men.”

Civility wasn’t always on display Monday afternoon as Republicans and Democrats squared off near the government annex building off County Road 466.
Hazel Lewis, Roni Brown and Lee Green

But for the most part, peace prevailed and the clash was over in about 45 minutes.

“This is fun. This is democracy as it’s meant to be,” said Village of Pine Ridge resident Mark Lehew. “I love that there was no violence and we all had fun. We shook a lot of hands and we got to trade our thoughts.”

John Farr, of the Village of Bonnybrook

But Barbara Scheer, who said she’s passionate about Trump getting impeached, had a much different feeling after the rally was over.

“I thought the Republicans were rabid and I felt attacked,” said the Village of Virginia Trace resident, who added that the turnout of area Democrats gave her goosebumps and made her feel quite patriotic.

Villager Cindy Grossman, who helped organized the rally, agreed.

“I know it’s a little scary but we cannot let people be intimidated,” she said. “I don’t mind whatever your political view is. You can stand on the corners and shout it out. But you can’t tell other people that they can’t be part of this process. We all live here and we’re all allowed to work for a government that reflects our values.”

A Villager offers her thoughts on President Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As for the turnout of Villagers for Trump members, Grossman said she really didn’t give it much thought.

“It’s their prerogative to be there,” she said. “That’s what America’s all about and that’s how democracy works. But we were there and we delivered a whole stack of letters and postcards to Congressman Webster that reflect our views.”

Rick and Kim Greenberg, of the Village of Hillsborough
Ron Nicholis, of the Village of Pine Hills, proudly displayed a sign he made for Monday’s event.

Rick Greenberg, of the Village of Hillsborough, said he thought the Villagers for Trump members outnumbered the Democratic contingent, adding that he counted about 130 golf carts in their caravan.

“That might be all the Democrats in The Villages,” he said with a chuckle.

But two of those Democrats, Marguerite Desbrow and Lillie Battle, didn’t hesitate to speak their minds as the caravan prepared to cross the multi-modal path near the annex building.

Villagers showed their support for President Trump at the roundabout near the government annex building on County Road 466 on Monday afternoon.

“I’m a Democrat, 100 percent, and I think it’s wonderful,” said Desbrow, of the Village of Duval. “I just wish more Democrats would get out and show exactly how they feel.”

Battle, of the Village of St. Charles, agreed.

“I think it’s fantastic that we have a right to speak our minds,” she said.

Members of The Villages Democrats Club were among those showing their disdain for President Trump on Monday afternoon.

Barbara Wilson, of the Village of Osceola Hills, offered a different viewpoint as she shouted, “Four more years” and then offered some advice for the Democrats.

“They really need to rethink their position,” she said. “They need to really look at both sides and honestly weigh the information.”

Josie Spadaro, of Haciendas of Mission Hills, took it a step further.

“They really don’t have a clue,” she said. “And it’s a shame because they’re blinded. They’re brainwashed.”

Tempers flared occasionally on Monday as Republicans and Democrats expressed their views about President Trump.

Spadaro added that conservatives must fight back against the constant attacks on the president.

“The truth will always prevail,” she said. “All I know is I’ve got God on my side and he tells me that I should fight evil in politics and come out and do the right thing. And I am here.”

Meanwhile, after the rally ended, Joseph Donatone, with the Tri-County Unitarian Universalists in Summerfield, said he appreciated the expression of such diverse points of view. But he said he stands with those who have had enough of the Trump administration.

“There’s a big group of people here in The Villages that is progressive and they want to see some change in the world,” he said.

Sumter County sheriff’s deputies kept traffic moving on Monday as a political protest unfolded near the government annex building on County Road 466.

Eleanor Strickland, of the Village of Belle Aire, said she’s been a resident of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown for 17 years and while Monday’s demonstration wasn’t the largest she’s participated in, it was among the most contentious.

“We were met at the other end with a very vociferous group,” she said.

Villagers for Trump member Sue Cianci, who serves as co-chair along with Donna Hoak of the group’s Action Committee, said she was thrilled with the turnout of her fellow Republicans.

“It was fabulous,” she said.

Donna Hoak and Sue Cianci, co-chairs of the Villagers for Trump Action Committee

Hoak said the group wanted to show their support for Webster’s recent vote against impeachment. And Cianci said that message came across loud and clear.

“Everybody helped by shouting ‘Stand with Dan,’” she said. “And there was “Four more years!” and “We love Trump.”

As for the Democrats, Grossman promised that the opposition hasn’t heard the last of them.

“We have a lot at stake in this world,” she said. “We want an honest government that represents our values. And that’s what we’re going to work for every single day for the next year.”

Golf carts sporting signs against President Trump and his administration were prevalent Monday during a golf cart caravan organized by Villages Democrats.
The parking lot of the government annex building off County Road 466 was packed on Monday as Villagers for Trump members waved signs at Villages Democrats who were taking part in a golf cart caravan.

Crossing highways in golf carts would be simpler

A Village of Polo Ridge resident says crossing highways in golf carts would be simpler than taking longer routes through tunnels. Read his Letter to the Editor.

We are getting a lot for our amenity fees

A Village of Mallory Square resident, in a Letter to the Editor, argues that residents are getting a tremendous value for their amenity dollars.

$325 is a small price to pay for peace of mind

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Lynnhaven resident responds to a previous letter writer critical of the proposed increase in the fire assessment fee.

Handicapped veteran has had car keyed over parking

A Village of Charlotte resident pleads for some understanding for a handicapped veteran who has had his car keyed over a misunderstanding about parking.

Don’t make fun of me for wanting good customer service

A Village of Summerhill resident, who had complained about a soaked delivery of The Villages Daily Sun, responds to the author of a Letter to the Editor who was critical of his complaint.