Billy needs your time, energy, money, and RSVP

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Billy Townsend, School Board District 1 (Please see full explanation at the bottom.)


I’ve been staring blankly at this screen for 10 minutes trying to come up with something witty to say about the Billy Townsend for School Board District 1 fundraiser and campaign kickoff this Sunday afternoon from 4 to 7. But it’s late on Tuesday night; and I can’t really think of anything. So I’ll just let you know this:

We’re working our butts off.

Starting very early each day, virtually every waking hour not spent working our paying jobs is going to this campaign. I am so grateful to the many people who have given so much of their time and energy to get us started. And now we need more. We need you to come Sunday. We need your checkbooks and/or credit cards (online giving should be up — fingers crossed.) We need your volunteer information. We need you to wear tee-shirts, request signs (which are coming in the next couple of weeks), and tell your friends about what you see and hear.

We need you to eat some burgers, barbecue, and cupcakes, enjoy the view of Lake Deeson, and groove to the music of my good friends at the Munn Park Saints. (If somehow this is the first time you’ve heard of it, please forgive us. Come anyway. Address is 1052 Lake Deeson Point. And please RSVP to Tom and Michelle Phillips at 219-229-9319 or It helps to have a count.)

The suggested contribution is $100. But if you can give more, we need it. And if $100 doesn’t fit your budget realities, or if you’re a Millennial just starting out, consider contributing $25 and lending us your talents as a volunteer. This is an inclusive campaign, and we value what everyone has to offer. It echoes our vision for the public education in Polk County.

We’re deadly serious about transforming the Polk Educational Experience. And our message is resonating. It’s not just the teachers and citizens who helped bring us to this point. The business community is ready for real change, too. [I saw this clearly at the Lakeland Republican Club School Board forum on Wednesday. Across the political spectrum, alignment around the need to find a better, classroom-centered experience is palpable.] Everyone is tired of education-by-spreadsheet, endless glitching tests, and thoughtless bureaucratic edicts. We all want new life injected into the classroom.

In Polk County, that will take more change than in other places. We have very specific, fixable issues, that other districts don’t have. Citizens for Better Educational Leadership (CBEL) and all the people who helped us remove Kathryn LeRoy and begin to reshape Polk’s assessment environment have started to turn the tide on that. Now it’s time to take the next step.

Please visit for a detailed rundown of how we plan to accomplish that.

We had a great day of fundraising Tuesday, to cap off an incredibly productive two weeks of campaign infrastructure building. I can see the outlines of the education political coalition I’ve always wanted to build. I see a community unifying around the idea that every kid’s school experience matters. I see unprecedented willingness to cooperate and help each other from the various communities within Polk’s schools.

All of us — from teachers to parents to bartenders to financial advisors to police officers to housecleaners to ministers to economic developers — benefit when the children of our community are challenged and loved. People of widely different political leanings and walks of life are realizing that more clearly today than I’ve seen in 20 years.

If you want to be part of this transformation in the making, please come celebrate with us Sunday from 4-7 p.m. And it will be a celebration. Fun is massive part of transforming the educational experience. And we’re going to have fun in this campaign.

Note on Lakeland Local:

As you probably noticed, this is the first Lakeland Local essay since I decided to run for office.

In my reading of Chapter 106 of Florida statutes, what I write on Lakeland Local does not constitute an “electioneering communication” or advertisement. Here is one relevant passage:

The term “electioneering communication” does not include:

1. A communication disseminated through a means of communication other than a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, telephone, or statement or depiction by an organization, in existence before the time during which a candidate named or depicted qualifies for that election, made in that organization’s newsletter, which newsletter is distributed only to members of that organization.

On the other hand, exclusions from the rules of disclaimers on advertisements and political messages only apply if the message is:

(d) Placed at no cost on an Internet website for which there is no cost to post content for public users.

(e) Placed or distributed on an unpaid profile or account which is available to the public without charge or on a social networking Internet website, as long as the source of the message or advertisement is patently clear from the content or format of the message or advertisement. A candidate or political committee may prominently display a statement indicating that the website or account is an official website or account of the candidate or political committee and is approved by the candidate or political committee. A website or account may not be marked as official without prior approval by the candidate or political committee.

In truth, Lakeland Local is a peculiar animal. And I don’t think Florida Statutes have truly contemplated it. Here is the basic explanation.

Chuck Welch pays $134/year to host a number of sites, including his personal sites and and now I have listed that cost as an in-kind contribution. Neither Chuck nor I have ever made a dime from LakelandLocal. It is as nonprofit as a website can be. And I pay to publish nothing beyond Chuck’s hosting.

With all that in mind, when I write a piece related to the campaign, I will mark it with the disclaimer at the top of this essay. I do that out of an abundance of caution only. And I appreciate you walking through it with me.

5 thoughts on “Billy needs your time, energy, money, and RSVP

  1. I think I’m going to have to choose between the Sunday event which sounds awesome or the program at the Hilton Garden Inn. Don’t think I can make both because one starts at 4:00 and one 5:00 and there’s quite a distance between the two! I’m in a quandary!

  2. To all of the people reading this, let me just say this! I never met this man until the first meeting of CBEL. I didn’t know him from Adam nor did I know what I was about to walk into. I was leery and somewhat hesitant. I soon learned of this man’s passion for all of those involved in the education system starting with the children, parents, the community and educators. I urge you to give your time, money and volunteer effort to this campaign. No one can serve the people better than Billy Townsend. Enough is Enough. Let’s make a real change.

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