Biden's Sarasota visit highlights importance of black vote

Residents of Newtown, the area in Sarasota, agree that their vote is important to the election.

Sarasota, Florida -- Newtown, Sarasota’s historic black community, is 100 years old and one of the few left in Florida so it doesn’t surprise Jetson Grimes  this is where Vice President Joe Biden chose to stop.

Grimes says,  “It sends the message they think we’re important.”

As is their vote. 10News WTSP asked a couple of customers at King’s Meat and Deli on Dr. Martin Luther King Way:  Why is the African-American vote important?

“Because they will make the difference,” says Adal Backhet, employed at King’s Meat and Deli.

Rhonda Pearson says, “I think it is very important we get out and vote not only for the black community it’s for everybody especially our children coming up today.”

“Their vote is more important than anything. Because if you want to change something you gotta vote for the right people. Sitting on your butt on the couch ain’t gonna get it,” says another customer.

In the general election of 2008 and 2012, blacks made up 3 percent of Sarasota voters and nearly 400 more voted in President Barack Obama’s re-election. But some worry this time blacks under 40 years old --millennials -- will not turn out in large numbers if issues important to them are ignored.

“The young people need to know if they are going to move forward they need job opportunities and economic development in their community,” says Grimes.

Sarasota’s Democratic Party is using the Biden event to register voters. They have an aggressive voter registration program and say they’ve made 15,000 phone calls in two weeks and spent the last 6 weeks going door-to-door mostly in the Newtown community.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager says there have been hundreds of volunteers in Florida since the spring. “Our key message is register by October 11 and everybody start voting on October 24,” says Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager.

Grimes says there’s a lot at stake in this election, primarily the Supreme Court. “Your vote is going to count in a big way. If we lose the election this country be set back especially for minorities for the next 50 years.”

The voter registration deadline  is October 11. Early voting begins on October 24.


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