Colleen Burton – Florida House of Representatives, District 40

Meet Colleen Burton:

Biographical Information
City of Residence: Lakeland
Occupation: Consultant: Strategic Planning, Community Visioning
Spouse: Jonathan “Brad” Burton of Summit, New Jersey
Child(ren): Chris, Tim, Elizabeth
Grandchild(ren): Blake, June
Education: California State University, Sacramento, B.S., Public Administration, 1980
Born: April 19, Heidelberg, Germany
Moved to Florida: 1987
Religious Affiliation: Catholic
Recreational Interest: spending time with family, travel

Legislative Service
Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2014, reelected subsequently
Chief Deputy Whip 2016-2018 (8-17-2017-11-6-2018)
Majority Deputy Whip 2016-2018 (11-9-2016-8-17-17)
Deputy Majority Whip, 2014-2016

Catholic Charities of Central Florida, West Central Area Advisory Board
Republican Women’s Club of Lakeland, Federated, past President
United Way of Central Florida Community Impact Cabinet
Volunteers in Service to the Elderly Advisory Board
Central Florida Development Council Board of Directors, past member
Polk County Workforce Development Board, past member

Committee Membership for 2016 – 2018 Term
Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee ( Vice Chair )
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
Ways & Means Committee ( Vice Chair )
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Government Accountability Committee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
Health & Human Services Committee
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Health Quality Subcommittee
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018

Leadership Roles
Majority Chief Deputy Whip (2016-2018)


Sam Killebrew – Florida House of Representatives, District 41

Meet Sam Killebrew:

City of Residence: Winter Haven
Occupation: Retired
Spouse: Eileen of Lake Wales, Florida
Child(ren): Heidi, Shane, Kristin, Cameron, Erin
Grandchild(ren): Logan, Sammy, Coy, Jocelyn, Riley, Joseph, Peyton
Born: April 13, 1945, Lakeland, FL
Military: United States Navy, former service
Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian

Legislative Service
Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, reelected subsequently

Veterans and Military Families Caucus, Clerk, 2017
Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, President, 2007-2008, current member
Polk County Sheriff’s Advisory Council, 2006-2007
Dundee Chamber of Commerce, member
Haines City Chamber of Commerce, member
Lake Alfred Chamber of Commerce, member

PACE Center for Girls, Polk Believing in Girls Award, 2018
Florida Chamber of Commerce, Honor Roll, 2018
Able Trust, Representative of the Year, 2017
Florida Farm Bureau Federation of Polk County, Champion for Agriculture, 2017

Committee Membership for 2016 – 2018 Term
Commerce Committee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Health Innovation Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
Joint Administrative Procedures Committee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018
Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee
12/12/2016 – 6/30/2017
8/17/2017 – 11/6/2018

Melony Bell – Florida House of Representatives, District 56

Meet Melony Bell:

Get to know me before the election!

I am Melony Bell, the current State Representative for District 56 in Florida. I am running for re-election this November for the same seat. I am a Republican, a Business owner, and a dedicated civil servant. I have lived in the area for 42 years during which I completed a degree in Business Proeffsion and Leadership at Southeastern University, raised children, and owned/managed Bell Apiaries. Over the years, I have been very active in our District’s communities, serving as Polk county commissioner (2010-2018) and Fort Meade City commissioner/Mayor (14 Years). I also had the pleasure of serving as an executive board member for the Career Academies of Polk County, a board member at the Baycare Hosptial Bartow, a board member for the Bartow Economic Development Committee, a board member at the Women’s Club, a member of HELP Fort Meade, and a member of the Fort Meade high school student advisory committee.

My top priorities for the next legislative session, if elected:

This past session, I filed HB 1207 at the request of the PolkCounty School Board, with the hope that it would help improve the conditions of the VAM testing. For the 2019-2020 school year, the VAM-only scores were released by the department at noon on August 8, with most school’s first day of school being the following Monday, August 12. At that time, teachers were in their schools setting up their classrooms, preparing for the school year, and had been planning their curriculum for weeks, if not months. Receiving the VAM-only data from the state this late requires teachers who must be moved due to the VAM to pack up their classrooms and move to either another classroom or another school, depending on the status of the school based on the differentiated accountability model. My primary goal in that legislation was that, while the VAM testing is in the current statute, school districts and their teachers will have a more timely notice of scores to be able to plan accordingly for their year. Unfortunately, HB 1207 died on its second reading and was not passed this year. I want to make filing it again one of my top priorities if I am elected. I am also concerned with the issues the agriculture community has been facing in my district. District 56 is very agriculturally based and our farmers have been very important throughout the pandemic. I think the food shortages during the height of the grocery store hysteria really emphasized the importance of our farmers and all the work they do to provide us with quality food, quickly. Last session, I filed HB 191 Young Farmer and Ranchers. This bill would have created a Florida Young Farmers & Ranchers Matching Grant Program within DACS to help our farmers and ranchers succeed as they are starting out in their businesses. Unfortunately, this bill never made it on an agenda to be heard in the house, so it would be a priority for me to file it again. I also want to prioritize my appropriations projects. I filed many projects to bring funding back to district 56 and Polk county to protect our natural resources, improve our infrastructure, and promote a lively community space in Polk County by protecting and improving our parks. Many were vetoed in light of the urgent need for COVID funding, so I want to make sure to get these issues back on the agenda next year and hopefully be able to carry out some of these projects!

Biographical Information
City of Residence: Fort Meade
Occupation: Business Owner
Spouse: Robbie Bell of Bartow, Florida
Child(ren): Ashley Barnett, Whitnie Bell
Education: South Florida Community College, AS; Southeastern University, BS, Business and Professional Leadership
Born: October 29, 1961, Winter Haven, FL
Religious Affiliation: Protestant
Recreational Interest: gardening, spending time with family, travel

Legislative Service
Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018
Owner of Bell Apiaries

Current Committee Assignments
Business & Professions Subcommittee
Health Quality Subcommittee
Local Administration Subcommittee
PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee

Member of the Florida House of Representatives
Melony Mincey Bell is currently a member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 56th District which covers the entirety of DeSoto and Hardee Counties, as well as part of Polk County. Bell has served as commissioner for the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, as the mayor of Fort Meade, Florida and as a Fort Meade city commissioner.

Previous office: Polk County Commissioner (2010 – 2018)
Contact – 
Mailing address: 1301 The Capitol, 402 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Phone: (850) 717-5056 (Office)


All four Florida House incumbents in Polk County face challengers for November election

Challenges set for Polk legislative races

All four Florida House incumbents in Polk County face challengers for fall election as qualifying deadline passes. Term limits create opening for other local seat.

June 15, 2020  LAKELAND ― All four of Polk County’s state representatives seeking re-election will face at least one challenger this fall.  Friday was the deadline to qualify for Florida Legislature elections, and all four incumbents have drawn opposition. Meanwhile, six candidates have qualified to compete in Florida House District 42, which is open as Rep. Mike La Rosa faces term limits.

Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven, has one challenger as he seeks a third term in District 41, which covers northeast Polk County. Jared West, a Democrat from Davenport, has qualified for the election.  West, 30, is an Indiana native who has lived in Central Florida since 2012, according to his campaign website. West said he has worked for Walt Disney World, an engineering company and as a contractor with the United States Small Business Administration. His resume includes volunteer work for Young Democrats of America and nonprofit groups.  West had collected $2,495 in contributions through May 31, according to the Florida Division of Elections. All of the money came from individual donors.  Killebrew, 75, has gathered $51,507 in contributions, most of it from political-action committees. Killebrew’s donors include Amscot, Duke Energy, Florida Blue, Florida Phosphate and Walt Disney Travel Co.

Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, faces two challengers as she seeks a fourth term in District 40, which covers the greater Lakeland area. Two Lakeland residents ― Jan Barrow, a Democrat, and Emily Michie, with no party affiliation ― have qualified to run.  Burton, 62, has a significant financial advantage, having collected $121,400 in contributions. The bulk of the money comes from committees representing the likes of Associated Industries of Florida, Cemex Materials, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dosal Tobacco Corp., Duke Energy and Gilead Sciences, and fewer than 10 of Burton’s 144 contributions appeared to be from individuals.  

Barrow, 58, hasn’t held office before. She has collected $12,468 in contributions, with $750 from the Florida Democratic Party and the rest from individuals. Michie reported only a loan of $1,100 from herself.

Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City, faces a challenge from Democrat Chris Cause of Loughman as she seeks a second full term. Tomkow, 24, represents House District 39, which includes northern Polk County and a small section of Osceola County.  Tomkow has amassed $84,481 in contributions from likes of Aetna, Anheuser Busch, AT&T, Dosal Tobacco, Duke Energy and the GEO Group. Only four of her 99 contributions appeared to be from individuals.

Chris Cause, 46, is a teacher who announced his campaign about a year ago. He has gathered $6,474 in donations, all from individuals.  Melony Bell, R-Fort Meade, has drawn two Democratic challengers, James Davis of Bartow and Eric Bautista of Arcadia. Bell, 58, is seeking a second term in District 56, which covers southern Polk County, Hardee and DeSoto counties.


This article originally appeared in the Lakeland Ledger on June 15, 2020

Kat Gates-Skipper – Candidate for Polk County REC Committeewoman

Kat Gates-Skipper – Candidate for Polk County State Committeewoman.

Meet Kat:

I’m Kat Gates Skipper. I grew up in Florida and am a native of Polk County since the age of 17. I am a Marine Corps Vietnam Era & Gulf War Veteran, giving back to this Great Country that gave so much to me. I was inducted into the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame-Class of 2019. I am a Polk County Small Business Owner, Cattlewoman and Chairwoman of the Lake Wales Census Complete Count Committee.

My passion for Grass Roots Politics and Veterans started in 2012, with Vets for Freedom/ Concerned Veterans For America, serving as a Volunteer and then the Central Florida Regional Director. I was selected to be involved with Grass Roots Legislation on Capitol Hill with the House and the Senate, in which that legislation became the VA Accountability Act of 2014. Beginning in 2015, I served as the State Director of Florida Veterans for Donald J. Trump for President, Polk County Vice-Chair for Donald J. Trump for President and was one of Florida’s 29 Electors. I serve as a Veterans Advocate across the State of Florida working with Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott and participated in the Vote Recounts for their Campaigns. I am a member of many Military, Veteran and Business Associations in the County and State. I am a member of the Polk County REC, a Precinct Committeewoman, President of the Lakeland Republican Club and the Veteran’s Republican Club of Polk County. My husband is an Army Veteran that served in the Vietnam War. I have 4 Children and 5 Grandchildren. I care about my Community, 2nd Amendment Rights, Veterans and the Republican Party. I believe in God, Family, America and President Trump. It would be an honor to be your Committeewoman. I humbly ask for your Vote on August 18th.

  • USMC-USMCR 20 years, Gulf War Veteran & Veterans Advocate.
  • 2019 Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis-Florida Dept of VA- “FORWARD MARCH” Initiative / Board Member, and Lake Nona-Orlando VA Hospital / Board Member.
  • Veterans Republican Club of Polk County / President.
  • Lakeland Republican Club / President.
  • FORMERLY: Deputy Dir-Veterans Coalition for Ron DeSantis 2018 for Florida Governor; and Veterans Coalition Rick Scott 2018 for Florida Senate; and
    Florida Director-Veterans for Donald J Trump 2016 for President.

Gary Scott – Candidate for FL House District 42

Meet Gary Scott:

Saint Cloud resident since 1989, Saint Cloud homeowner since 2010, but more importantly a father of four, a husband, and an actively serving veteran. I joined the Army in 2007 for the challenge and education benefits. If you asked me then if I’d still be in, I would have laughed at you. One tour in Afghanistan in 2009, another in Guantanamo Bay in 2011, and most recently Kuwait in 2018. I earned my associates degree from Valencia College and completed the BS degree program from Public Administration with a minor in Health Science. I’m currently taking additional classes to perfect my craft in government. For the last 13 years I’ve been performing selfless service and a lot of these elected officials have a misunderstanding on how government works. They work for us and not the other way around.
Every time I come back from a deployment it takes me longer to get home from the airport because Osceola county approved thousands of more homes to be built but didn’t prepare the infrastructure. All their decisions are based on money and money should never drive your decisions. Money is not quality. I propose we reduce stress and improve quality of life. Education is quality of life. Childcare is quality of life. No crime is quality of life. Personal health is quality of life. Lower cost of living is quality of life. Not building homes for future residence.
My strengths are not experiences from traveling the world, nor my education, nor my struggles, nor my military background but rather the people who live in Osceola County. I’m not 1, I am 155,000. Anyone who gets on the microphone and tells you they know more than 155,000 is not who you want representing you in Tallahassee.
“A vote for me is a vote for us”

Dr Ed Shoemaker – Elected Republican Party of Florida State Committeeman for Polk County

Dr Ed Shoemaker – Elected Republican Party of Florida State Committeeman for Polk County

Meet Ed Shoemaker:

Hello my name is Dr Ed Shoemaker. It has been an honor to serve as the Republican Party of Florida State Committeeman for Polk County for the past 4 years elected during the 2016 Primary Election on the Republican ballot! It has been a privilege to attend the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Quarterly and Annual meetings and serve as Alternate Chair for the Congressional District 15 Caucus for the past 4 years. In addition, I have served on the 2nd Amendment Committee, Faith Based Engagement Committee, Legislative Affairs Committee as well as the Small Business Engagement Committee for the RPOF. I am especially proud of taking the lead in developing the Faith Based Republican Club of West Polk, the first of its kind in the state of Florida; as well as the “Rally for God & Country” held in Lakeland in January 2020; “Defending Gun Rights Meet and Greet” in February and Drive Through Polk County Freedom Rally in May! I am asking for your support to re-elect Ed Shoemaker as your Republican Party of Florida State Committeeman on the 2020 Republican Primary Ballot this coming August. Vote for a True Republican Christian Conservative, President Donald Trump Supporter, Small Business Owner and Team Player! Someone who will fight for the US Constitution.

Ed was also elected as a Delegate for Congressional District 15 for the 2020 GOP NATIONAL CONVENTION.

Jacksonville, Florida, has been selected as the new host city to celebrate the renomination of President Donald Trump.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced Thursday that Jacksonville, Florida, has been selected as the host city to celebrate the renomination of President Donald Trump.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” McDaniel said. “Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump’s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months.”

McDaniel said the event would be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people. She said more details would be released in the coming weeks.

The move comes as Trump clashed with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper about holding the convention in Charlotte amid coronavirus concerns.

The party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, will still be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations.

The RNC had spent the last week scouting locations after Cooper rejected Trump’s demand that the convention be allowed to take place Aug. 24-27 without social distancing measures.

The Jacksonville area is one of the state’s most populous, with 1.5 million residents, but it doesn’t have the glitz of Miami or the worldwide familiarity of Orlando. The community has tilted from the solidly conservative bastion it once was to the more politically diverse place it now is. While the area’s population is still mostly white, 21% of its 1.5 million residents are black and 9% are Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Florida is honored to host this special event where we will celebrate the re-nomination of President Donald J. Trump,” DeSantis said. “Jacksonville is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a former chair of the state Republican Party, tweeted a video announcing his city’s selection for Trump’s speech. He said Jacksonville would be prepared and ready.

“What city would take on the Republican National Convention with just 75 days to pull it off?” he asked. “Probably not many. But Jacksonville isn’t just any city.”

In a statement provided by the RNC, Curry also touted the “tremendous economic impact” from hosting the event. The celebration could generate at least $100 million in revenues for the host city, perhaps more.

But Ben Frazier, a black activist with the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, said the event would be disruptive to the city during a time of racial tension and a pandemic.

“I only see this exacerbating these problems,” he said. “The mayor’s concerned about the money the city could make. We’re concerned about the lives of people here in Jacksonville more than anything else. We don’t simply need to be concerned about dollars and cents.”

Terrie Rizzo, the chair of the state’s Democratic Party, expressed concern about the gathering.

“I am deeply concerned that the impetus for moving their highest profile event to Florida was because Donald Trump wanted to give a speech to a crowd of people not social distancing — and, given his previous public events, likely not wearing masks,” she said.

“Trump is coming to Florida to throw himself a big party — but it’s looking more and more like a goodbye party to his chance at a second term in the White House,” she said.

The party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, will still be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations.

This article is a re-post from WESH2TV, the API and Hearst TV also contributed to this report.

Polk County Chooses Delegates to the RNC National Convention

June 11, 2020
Congratulations to the following Polk County REPUBLICANS that were chosen by their respective caucuses to be a delegate or alternate delegate or chosen by the RPOF as an at large delegate/alternate delegate to the GOP NATIONAL CONVENTION.
JC Martin – Congressional District 9 Delegate
Dr-Ed Shoemaker – Congressional District 15 Delegate
Amilee Stuckey -RPOF At Large Alternate Delegate
Kathryn Gates-Skipper -RPOF At Large Alternate Delegate

Jacksonville Emerges as the Front Runner to Host the Republican National Convention

2016 Republican National Convention


Jacksonville Emerges as the Front Runner to Host  the Republican National Convention 

June 10, 2020

According to reports by News4JAX, Jacksonville, FL is now the front runner to host the RNC Nominating Convention being moved out of Charlotte, NC. 

The head of the Republican Party of Duval County said Wednesday it’s a matter of “days if not hours” before we’ll know if Jacksonville will be the substitute host for some or all of the August convention where Donald Trump will accept his party’s nomination for a second term.

National Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said reports of a final decision were ‘definitely premature,” but she made clear that Jacksonville is the favorite now that Charlotte, North Carolina, the official host of this summer’s Republican National Convention, has balked on promising Trump a full-blown convention free from social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s a couple more things we need to do before we can announce that, but Jacksonville is absolutely in the front-running position,” McDaneil said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Trump has made clear he no longer intends to hold the convention’s marquee event — his acceptance speech — in Charlotte. But much of the party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, are still expected to be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations.

“We are going to keep our convention of, the business of the convention in Charlotte. That is for sure. It’s going to be smaller and scaled-down. And then we are looking for a different city for a celebration,” McDaniel explained.

But several Republicans familiar with the negotiations stressed that no final decision had yet been made about where the convention will be move

“Several cities are still being considered,” said Emma Vaughn, a Florida-based spokesperson for the Republican National Committee. She said that convention officials were touring Phoenix; Savannah, Georgia; Dallas; and Jacksonville this week and “have been in conversations with several other potential locations.”

“While no final decision has been made by the RNC we understand Jacksonville is a front runner,” the chairperson of the Republican Party of Florida, Joe Gruters, said in a tweet. “This certainly has been generating a lot of attention and excitement. We continue to believe that Florida would be the best place for the Convention.”

Jacksonville GOP Chairman Dean Black was every optimistic the convention with thousands of delegates, media and support staff might come here.

“We are ecstatic the Republican National Committee sees what we do in Jacksonville,” Black said. “While we understand the final decision on a convention location has not yet been made, we are excited for the possibility of hosting our great President and Republican leaders. Reaching this stage of the process would not have been possible without the leadership of Gov. DeSantis, Mayor Curry, Sheriff Williams, and many others. Jacksonville holds the privilege of being the largest Republican-controlled city. We hope to show the rest of the country the benefits of Republican governance.”

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that three Republican officials confirmed that Republicans have tentatively settled on Jacksonville as the new destination for the GOP’s premier festivities.

Greater Jacksonville has a population of about 1.5 million. Mayor Len Curry is a former chairperson of the state Republican Party, and the area is the home base of GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, a key Trump ally. Florida’s prize of 29 electoral votes is considered crucial to Trump’s bid for a second term, which could factor into the party’s calculations.

The Party’s party could generate at least $100 million in revenues for the host city, perhaps more.

Reports said RNC aides are scrambling to determine whether Jacksonville has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the event, which typically kicks off the final stretch of the presidential campaign. It would take significant work to make the convention happen. Estimates show the event could draw 50,000 visitors with a potential $100 million economic impact.

The RNC said it expects about 20,000 people for the convention, and the head of Visit Jacksonville believes the city could handle the crowds.

According to our count, Duval County has 18,000 hotel rooms. Of the eight hotels downtown and on the Southbank, there are more than 2,300 rooms.

There are currently no reservations available at the Omni and Hyatt Regency in downtown Jacksonville during the week of the RNC in August.

Georgia and Florida’s governors have been courting GOP and White House officials since it became clear that North Carolina and the party were not seeing eye to eye on the convention and coronavirus precautions in the city of Charlotte.

Curry said previously the recent success of the UFC event at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena shows the city can have a large event and keep people safe from the novel coronavirus.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to keep the RNC out of Jacksonville. Some residents are concerned not only by the thousands of delegates and other people covering the convention but the possibility of protesters from all over America descending on the city.

Black said that shouldn’t be a concern, saying that Jacksonville will tolerate protests but won’t tolerate lawlessness.

“We’re going to show them how this is done, and if they want good governance, too, all they have to do is vote Republican,” he said.

This is a reposting of an article originally posted by News4JAX.com.