At last week’s Sarasota County School Board Meeting, vice chair Tom Edwards was verbally attacked by Melissa Bakondy. She referred to Mr. Edwards as an LGBTQ Groomer and a threat to our children. I invited Mr. Edwards to SNN to respond.

“I have been attacked multiple times from her on occasions. I wasn’t paying attention to how I was feeling, what was amazing to me was the shock and awe the room was experiencing.  I don’t think there was a person including board members on both side of me that weren’t moaning and groaning at the hate and rhetoric coming out.” – says Sarasota County School Board Tom Edwards

Edwards apologized first to the student representative and then also to the people in the room. He stated no one should be subject to type of treatment.

“So my first thought after she was done speaking, I leaned over to board chair Ziegler and I said I hold you personally responsible for the attack. It is up to the chair to stop any kind of public attack. The emotional violence attack assaulted everyone in the room and it’s her responsibility to shut it down and protect the student representative, protect the staff and the people that were there who were subjected to that assault,” says Edwards

I asked if the board would allow the women who verbally attacked Edwards back into future board meetings.

“I think that’s a situation the board and the chair can take up. I think quite frankly that person has worn out their welcome in terms of public speaking. I’m not going to lead that charge.” – says Edwards

Being a black man and seeing the changes the “Right” are attempting to implement here on the Suncoast I asked if there is a true cause for concern.

“The reality is, if conservatism is being redefined by bullying, it starts with the Governor calling me a name and putting me on a targeted hit list. If we accept that from our elected officials, then we get the behavior we saw in the school board room, because apparently it’s ok for everyone to bully and everyone to attack. We don’t accept that from our students, we have a zero tolerance policy. I think we as Americans deserve better.” – says Edwards