Challenging This Martin County Commissioner Wasn't for Sissies

By: Barbara Clowdus | Posted: August 28, 2014 3:55 AM
Barbara Clowdus

Barbara Clowdus

NOTE FROM EDITOR NANCY SMITH: An inconvenient truth is never "shameful."

Sadly, in Wednesday's Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, incumbent Martin County Commission Chair Sarah Heard, District 4 election winner by a shade under 3,000 votes, was given the opportunity to say otherwise with no opportunity for her opponent to reply.

“We’ve never seen such a poisonous and shameful campaign as we saw in this election and I’m just grateful that it's over,” Heard is quoted as saying on page 1. “It was unworthy and shame on the people who mounted the campaign."

Because Sunshine State News has covered this race at least in part -- including stories of ethics complaints filed against Heard that still are being reviewed in Tallahassee, I think Martin County residents in particular might want to hear from the other side, from the candidate who lost the race, Barbara Clowdus.

Below is an email Clowdus sent to me a week before the election. Sunshine State News is printing it with the candidate's permission. I believe, had the newspaper phoned for her comments Tuesday night, the reporter might have heard this:

When you think about it ... really think about it ... what my friends and supporters tried to do is almost comical: Throw a politically untested grandmother of few resources in the path of an entrenched, powerful incumbent with nearly unlimited resources, and think we could win! Yet, in spite of the odds, we nearly did it. That's amazing.

No wonder good people do not run for office. It's nearly impossible to fight the lies and distortions that get told ... and repeated ... as fact.

So many people, both as individuals and as businesses, have told me they support me and will vote for me, but they cannot support me publicly because of their fear of retribution. I've learned that their fears are not groundless.

As soon as I announced my candidacy, I found a dead bird in my mailbox, and I've had two tires destroyed -- once from a sidewall puncture when I was parked at the administration building and another time, after the air had been let out while parked in Hobe Sound, so I wound up driving on, and destroying, those tires.

Now, my campaign signs are getting stolen faster than I can replace them, and one is still by the road in Hobe Sound where it was run over.

Of course, I should have known in advance how difficult it was going to be. I had plenty of advance warning.

When I wrote an editorial in my newspaper, Martin County Currents, about the impropriety of Martin County commissioners rejecting the court-ordered sanctions and fees owed to Martin County taxpayers (for a frivolous lawsuit against the county by the 1,000 Friends of Florida) by meeting behind closed doors, although some commissioners were members of the groups involved, and suggesting also that attorney Ginny Sherlock was coordinating the effort behind the scenes, Sherlock threatened to sue me ... twice. (Now that situation is part of one of the ethics complaints filed against Commissioner Heard and is being investigated by the ethics commission.)

I should have known also how difficult it was going to be to raise sufficient funds to launch a campaign in this kind of environment. I had to ask 22 people before I found someone willing to be my campaign treasurer. Who finally agreed? My hairdresser. I'm scared to death I'm going to lose the best hairdresser I ever had, because she hates to see me coming in the door now!

The political climate in Martin County is more vile than the river's pollution. It should not be that way. I personally welcome opposing views, because that's the only possible way of knowing what I may be missing within my own arguments.

I also understand that I cannot possibly satisfy every person's objectives and desires, but I can listen to every single one of them. Probably the most important thing I have learned from talking to hundreds of people over the past four months is that I am not alone in wanting to lift Martin County out of this quagmire of dirty politics in which we seem stuck.

Whether I am elected as a commissioner or not, I still will be outspoken. I still will do what I feel is best for all Martin County residents and what is fair -- without stealing signs, slashing tires or resorting to dead birds to make a point.

I will continue to speak the truth and whatever is on my mind, no matter how intense the criticism gets, in order to make Martin County an even better place to live for all of us. I am heartened to know that I am not alone in this endeavor.

Republican Barbara Clowdus, who was running for office for the first time in the Martin County Commission District 4 race, is the publisher of Martin County Currents newspaper.

Comments (36)

Peggy Hess
9:43AM SEP 11TH 2014
Funny how at this week's County Commission meeting Crowdus was not seen sitting in front of the TV camera... you know. warming up Eddie's old chair!

Looks like she stopped "continuing her fight" !
Peggy Hess
6:20AM SEP 4TH 2014
My husband and I voted for Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding and hope that they will continue to fight for all the voters of Martin County.

You wrote: "Continue to fight"? I have barely heard her speak publically about anything! All she did was sit in front of the cameras at MC commission meetings... you know...Ed Ciampi's old seat. Looks like she was warming it up for him!
Stuart news realized that she was a "SHILL" once they interviewed her and it was a no-brainer not to endorse her! IMAGINE THAT!

Her rag publication was even stopped during the campaign so that her pro growth side was not exposed. Most of Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding signs were until the last few days of the campaign ALL on private property while Clowdus signs littered the right of ways throughout the county.
All special interests groups... like the firefighters... worked for her election.... and she did not even know who was doing what because she was just a faux candidate. More outsiders worked on her campaign that she did not even know because they had "financial interests" in the outcome... not because she was an intelligent, informed candidate.

Who can DENY the flow of outside monies? It is there in black and white... at least what was actually reported. It was AMAZING to see how the address in Miami gave sooooooo much money in OUR COUNTY commission races. NO ONE CAN SPIN THIS FACT! IMAGINE THAT!

Now let's vote Ed Fielding back into office.
Ron Rose only entered the race to shut out all Democrats and to be there in case Ed Fielding lost!

Martin Voters are too smart.... they will NOT let our County be bought!
Roger Field
1:28PM SEP 2ND 2014
My wife and I supported Barbara Clowdus and hope she will continue the fight against those who are totally opposed to economic growth of any kind. We all know who those people are.
Jackie Trancynger
5:02PM SEP 13TH 2014
Doo not hold your breath!
Peggy Hess
5:45AM SEP 2ND 2014
"Who supplied some of the big money became clearer on election day when a local political action committee, Martin County Residents for Tax Fairness, Inc., finally filed a report showing almost $151,000 in campaign contributions from other PACs."

"One PAC, Floridians for Accountability, shows $99,000 in donations from Lake Point holdings in Indiantown. Lake Point owns a rock mine in western Martin, and is suing the county and South Florida Water Management District. Lake Point wants to ignore Martin wetlands protection rules, and to sell water from Martin and Lake Okeechobee to other South Florida counties."

"The Floridians for Accountability PAC reports another $34,000 from other corporations linked to Lake Point and George Lindemann Jr. in Miami."

"On the same days Lake Point gave the money to Floridians for Accountability — Aug. 18-21 — the Floridians PAC gave $120,000 to the local PAC, Martin County Residents for Tax Fairness."

" The Lake Point groups “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars,”...., “on the committees, and on the campaigns of Heard’s and Fielding’s opponents.”

"The local PAC also lists Aug. 21 donations of $22,735 from Martin County Infrastructure Policy Council Inc. and $6,673 from Treasure Coast Citizens Council. Both corporations list Palm City addresses. But like an earlier corporate donor that gave $23,000 to the PAC, neither is registered with the state."

"The PACs used the money for a website attacking Heard, Facebook ads linking to the website, and on radio and TV ads attacking her. The ads accused her of “being a fake environmentalist,” raising taxes and bogus ethics complaints. But residents remembered her hard work and trips to Washington D.C. and Tallahassee to fight for the river. Taxes are lower, and the fake ethics complaint was filed by an organizer of the local PAC."

"Money also went to eight 9 x 12-inch color postcards attacking Heard and Fielding and six each promoting their opponents, Barbara Clowdus and Stacey Hetherington."

"Both Clowdus, owner of a monthly newspaper that closed down during the election, and Lake Point employee Hetherington, who received 10 $1,000 donations from corporations and individuals linked to Lake Point at the same Miami address, claimed to be environmentalists."

"That’s not surprising. In an election year, every Martin candidate wants to be one."

"A major factor in Fielding’s race was John Schierbaum, who got 11 percent of the votes to Hetherington’s 42 percent. That made Fielding, with more than 46 percent, the winner. In the past, careful growth candidates have lost in three-candidate races, but Fielding prevailed in this one."

"For all that the big money folks lost in this election, they did show that it’s possible to take two unknown people with scant or no record of civic involvement and get 42-44 percent of the vote. (Heard won 56 percent to Clowdus’ 44 percent.) Voter turnout was shockingly low, at 25 percent of Martin’s almost 105,000 registered voters."

"The big bankrollers also showed it’s possible to keep donations secret until election day, when it’s too late to let residents know what’s going on. Apparently, no state or local authority can do anything about this. Florida’s elections laws need an honest overhaul."

"The real champs in this election are Martin voters, who showed they are savvy enough to tell truth from lies and honest records of hard work from slick promises."

Tim Hackett
12:17PM SEP 1ST 2014
Clowdus stepped up because she wanted to serve those in her district not serve political lobbyist and private interest groups. With little funding and late entry into the race she sent a sound message to incumbent Heard that the people in her district do not like her representation. She can be tankful it was a county wide race and special interests could help her cause even when all the funding for water quality in Martin County has allowed the river and lagoon to go toxic. Heard did not even see all aboard Florida as a top issue where the large numbers of residents along the tracks in her district will see a significantly lower quality of life as a result of all aboard Florida. Just like the days when Stuart was Potsdam and a mere stop along the tracks now it will pay funds and not even be serviced. Not a priority of Heard. While the commission now has to ask for a sales tax increase to fund over $222 million dollars of deferred maintenance of its infrastructure and is behind in its matching grant funding of projects to improve and maintain our parks and boat ramps. Heard even failed to support a vital local restaurant over 6/100 of an acre of low quality wet land the county failed to even record in decades ago. The vote for Fielding and Heard showed there are many unhappy residents in Martin County.
11:52AM AUG 31ST 2014
Yes, you must be right to try and spin --> "winner by a shade under 3,000 votes" . . . . . not like it was a 56% to 44% win, now was it . . . nor that all that big smear-their-character PAC money in the various Martin County races tried to buy those elections, now was it . . . . . yes, SSN spin doctoring . . . once again . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Paul Harrison
8:57AM SEP 2ND 2014
I don't know enough about Clowdus to pass judgement on whether she would have made a better commissioner than Heard, but will comment on this.

Those of us in Martin County pretty much got to hear nothing about Clowdus beyond complaints that (a) she was getting help from "outside money" and (b) she was running some kind of smear campaign against Heard because someone else who may or may not have been connected to her made an ethics complaint against the latter. (And as for the ethics complaint - most people heard about it in the context of "There's a smear campaign against Heard.") Even Clowdus's own newspaper was shut down during the election itself, presumably due to ethics restrictions (and that was used against her!) making it difficult for her to get a message out about who she was and what she stood for.

That was it. It was rare to see a yard sign. There were no ads. For someone supposedly well financed by "outside money", allegedly supported by well financed PACs as you suggest, she sure was hidden away. Heard was backed by the local media and they promoted her heavily. Heard was heard, Clowdus wasn't.

So in that environment 44% going to Clowdus needs to be taken as astonishingly high.

There's a bunch of things taken as gospel by the Martin County establishment that I think aren't as strong amongst residents as they think. Zero growth has the backing of a large portion of Martin County's retiree population, but people who work (and people who want to work) and people who run businesses are rightly skeptical of proposals that discourage the expansion of commerce and block developments that require little or no new supporting infrastructure.

No campaign to speak of and she gets 44% of the vote. Even if you're a Heard supporter, you need to listen to that.
Tim Hackett
5:27PM SEP 2ND 2014
Paul I believe you have made an accurate appraisal. Now we have to ask if all that "outside money" was pouring in where was the visibility. Maybe it was a smoke screen to distract. Yes the campaign was throttled by an overly conservative candidate afraid of potential ethics charges. When you read the article of what she went through by merely offering to serve it serves yet another notice on Martin County Voters not to mention the enormous legal fees we as residents are paying to defend Heard. "No campaign to speak of and she gets 44% of the vote. Even if you're a Heard supporter, you need to listen to that. ". I would question were all the special interest groups put their money.
Linda Scott
12:11PM AUG 30TH 2014
I am sad that Barbara did not win. I am hoping that somehow Sarah Heard will be taken out of office. She has done all she could to destroy Martin County and if she had her way, we would not have a new bridge into Palm City...(ever sit in traffic waiting to get over the old one) and so many other worthwhile and much needed projects she voted against. It is public lies there. God is still in control and we can pray that all of the things she has said and done will come back on her and do her in. We need someone who can't be bought with money...someone with integrity. God bless you's not over!!
Peggy Hess
7:54AM AUG 31ST 2014
Ever sit in REAL traffic? I think NOT!

It IS public lies there....RIGHT ON.... Sarah has saved the COUNTY and the Comp plan many times with her "NO" vote!

Yes ... Thank God, "God " is still in control.... and all did come back to her as you had hoped.....SHE WON... despite all of the dirty ,outside monies and PACS.

Let's not forget Ed Fielding too... FOUR more years!
Concerned Citizen
8:21AM AUG 30TH 2014
Have any of you thought about what you might be told to think if Heard is removed from office as a result of illegal actions? Over the past 30 years, Martin County has grown 1-2% annually. Unless you are a native, you are part of the "growth" problem. Growth-no growth argument is nonsense. Despite who has held the majority, Martin County's culture has been protected all along. Unfortunately, some commissioners believe you have to violate the law and ethics in order to preserve it.
Peggy Hess
9:11PM AUG 29TH 2014
SMITH WROTE: Below is an email Clowdus sent to me a WEEK BEFORE the election. Sunshine State News is printing it with the candidate's permission.

Then Smith quotes Crowdas: "Yet, in spite of the odds, we nearly did it. That's amazing.:

Wow WOW WOW A whole week before the primary and Crowdas predicted the future! WHAT CRYSTAL BALL ARE YOU USING? (You know I have my own too.)

Then Crowdas writes: "Whether I am elected as a commissioner or not, I still will be outspoken"
I have only heard her speak twice.... BUT SHE WAS ALWAYS SITTING AT THE COMMISSION MEETINGS IN ED CIAMPI'S OLD SEAT Right smack in front of the Cameras! Never Spoke Though!!!!! Imagine That!

This article is so bogus and trumped up that I really do not know why I am wasting my time!
Except to say : " My crystal ball says Ed Fielding FOUR more years"

and furthermore YOU LOST...GET OVER IT!

Oh yes and Mr.Bell's response to Jackiet is now worth repeating back to him because it is he who is sending out this piece of TRASH.
Gray Baker
1:55AM AUG 30TH 2014
What a nasty transhy tone. Barbara, I think you just found the lady (using the word loosely) who stole your signs. Check the dead bird for fingerprints too.
Peggy Hess
5:56AM AUG 30TH 2014
Yes check for fingerprints if in fact any were stolen at all!..... and I will check all my signs that were all on PRIVATE properties and that were stolen and destroyed! Maybe it was you Baker!
What is the matter... you don't see the COMPLETE inaccuracy in this article. Can not you read?
THIS IS A BOGUS ARTICLE just like you and your "outspoken " candidate.
I REPEAT.... We won, Get over it...Ed Fielding FOUR MORE YEARS!
Nancy Drewes
2:55PM AUG 28TH 2014
I voted for Barbara Clowdus. I don't want Sarah Heard in the position she is in and Martin County/Stuart is in dire need of some changes.

Thank you, Barbara, for your efforts. Next time you need someone on your side...give me a call! This Florida planted Jersey Girl can handle it!
Peggy Hess
9:13PM AUG 29TH 2014
Ed Fielding FOUR more years! Imagine This!
Roger Field
1:14PM AUG 28TH 2014
The re-election of Heard and Fielding is clear evidence that growth in our local economy simply won't happen, and is likely to slump further.
Tim Hackett
5:29PM SEP 2ND 2014
Absolutely correct.
Peggy Hess
9:15PM AUG 29TH 2014
Thank GOD!
Ed Fielding FOUR more years! Imagine This!
Chris G.
10:56AM AUG 28TH 2014
I was shocked to see the use of the word "sissies" in the title of this article. Just like "colored" and "oriental", that is an offensive term that is no longer acceptable to use in American society.
Gray Baker
11:16AM AUG 28TH 2014
Huh???? Merriam-Webster dictionary lists two definitions of sissy and one is "a person who is weak or fearful"
Rose McMain
11:07PM AUG 28TH 2014
Sissy has traditionally been used to refer to a gay person as bigoted way to discount and dismiss them as humans simply because they were born gay.
Elmira Gainey
10:53AM AUG 28TH 2014
Hat's off to you!!! You did an outstanding job in representing the people of our county who were not afraid to stand with you! We need business/economic development; environmental protections and commissioners who are concerned with the overall welfare of our community! The tyrants who won should remember that our citizens will not continue to let them rein... the ethics situations and law suits will bring justice to all!!!
Peggy Hess
9:15PM AUG 29TH 2014
Looks like the "citizens" DID SPEAK!
Ed Fielding FOUR more years! Imagine This!
10:38AM AUG 28TH 2014
Voted for you too - its what we all must do - make the good fight and keep it up, not stopping and slowly spreading - we are winning this when the likes of Heard have to stoop to the low brow tactics she and her ilk resort to so they can keep their position - DO NOT STOP!
Peggy Hess
9:16PM AUG 29TH 2014
Are you in reality?
Ed Fielding FOUR more years! Imagine This!
Oscar L. Torres
9:43AM AUG 28TH 2014
Hello Barbara. I voted for you and would support you publicly. We do not live in a fascist or communist state. As a Cuban born American Citizen I choose to voice my God given rights. Please continue your fight. You can count on me for future campaigns.
Oscar L. Torres
Torres Electrical Supply Company
Stuart, Fl.
Tim Hackett
12:24PM SEP 1ST 2014
Mr Torres
Don't stop sending your message. We have an election coming up that will set the stage for 2016. A pathetic 24% of Martin County even voted.
John Hennessee
8:13AM AUG 28TH 2014
Barbara has been the 'Beacon of Light' amongst this very dark quagmire of dirty politics created by the Martin County Conservation Alliance, which is the biggest 'Special Interest Group' here in Martin County..... and they support Heard and Fielding... and exert great influence over Scott and Haddox. The MCCA, and their leader triumvirate, Melzer, Hurchalla, and Sherlock, have hurled dozens of lawsuits against the County, and many of its steadfast citizens (myself included). They exert behind the scenes manipulation of county staff and the commissioners, all under the false guise of 'Preserving our Comp Plan' and 'Preserving our way of life'.... when the reality is... they want 'No-growth'... 'No-business development'...'Keep everything just the way it is'..... They are strangling the life out of Martin County...!!!!
Peggy Hess
9:21PM AUG 29TH 2014
You sir are the LEADER amongst this very dark quagmire of dirty politics in Martin County!

Are you upset that you and your likes/cohorts are NO LONGER ABLE to "exert behind the scenes manipulation of county staff and the commissioners"?

Politically In Tune
8:21AM AUG 28TH 2014
What they support is their own self serving interest and will act like mafia thugs to achieve it. They have a Progressive ideology of environmental preservation over human preservation. They act as if humans are all bad and the gopher tortoise is a more important than people!

They practice a progressive agenda known as Sustainable Development - sounds sexy but you just wait. If you do not stop these MOONBATS you - like the restaurant in Hobe Sound will find yourself WITHOUT !
Peggy Hess
9:24PM AUG 29TH 2014
BUT....... I Just can not help myself.

Politically In Tune
7:47AM AUG 28TH 2014
What Ms. Clowdus is experiencing is a microcosm of US Politics. There seem to be two mind sets these days. 1. Is the power and money hungry group who's leaders are convinced that they know better than you and how things should be done for our own good.

2. is a group that know that self governance is required before governance of others can work.

There is I believe a 3rd parry already. Not the Tea-Party - the Progressive Party. You see. These type 1. people that have greed and self serving power in BOTH parties are really Progressives.

What you see in Martin County is no different that what is happening at a State and National Level. We do not have enough people voting that should. People that want to make a difference by being a citizen legislator feel threatened and dismayed

Hats off to Grandma Clowdus ! You took on a hydra and exposed her for the self serving left wing progressive nut job her Nat Reed and the rest of the left wing psycho babble fools are. One thing they are not however is REPUBLICAN - to Sarah Ed and the rest of you Progressive MOONBATS - get the H377 out of my party.
Jackie Trancynger
12:57PM AUG 30TH 2014
Correction, Nat Reed is a life-long Republican and served in Ronald Reagan's cabinet. I would certainly not refer to him as a "leftwing psycho babble fool." That one sentence proved your ignorance of the facts and the rest of your "babble" proves your ignorance of the political process.
Have a nice Labor Day weekend,take a deep breath and try to relax.....Sarah Heard has four more years to serve the people of the county, not the PACs, not the inhabitants of 4500 Biscayne Blvd. Miami.
Tim Hackett
5:42PM SEP 2ND 2014
There are republicans and there are republicans. Will Reed back the hollow environmental promises of Murphy or the Republican Primary winner? Will Reed and his republican Posey oppose all aboard Florida that destroys the quality of life of many south Martin County Residents and taxes us with no benefit? Did they and do they support 7/50 plan or do they stand for individual property rights. Do they stand against common core and support having our locally elected school board run the education of our children. Do they support more ownership of property by the County. A Regan Republican would never allow Flash Grill to suffer as a result o 6/100 acre of non contributory low quality wetland. I would agree with one thing. No PACs for Heard. Heard is for more government control. More government regulation. Period.

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