Awake Tampa Motivates People to Go to the Polls

Alex Sink motivates the crowd
TAMPA (2011-11-1) -

A group called Awake Tampa met in downtown last night to kick off its one-year program to motivate people to go to the polls. One of the speakers was former candidate for governor Alex Sink.

Awake Tampa started about a month after Awake the State was born last spring. It began in response to Governor Rick Scott's cuts to government agencies and was spearheaded by teachers and union members. Alex Sink, who narrowly lost to Scott, told about 60 people gathered in a downtown Tampa park that it's up to them to help oppose the governor's policies.

"People are waking up and realizing after last year that elections matter, going to the polls matters," said Sink. "And we don't want to wake up a year from this November and say to ourselves, wow, we should've worked harder or we wished for a different outcome. The power is within us to make change."

Sink told the crowd they need to get people to the polls to oppose budget cuts that directly affect middle class families.

Tim Heberlein is an organizer with the Florida Consumer Action Network as well as the Awake Tampa coalition.

"Today is about getting engaged and getting out the vote," says Heberlein. "It is 12 months away - some people may think that's a really long time, but if you haven't noticed there's been a lot of debates coming to Tampa - presidential debates. Florida is incredibly important in the elections process, and the only way that we have a say in our government is the vote.]

Heberlein says they have natural allies in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"I think the message that they are spreading - we are the 99 percent - resonates obviously with the 99 percent," he says. "We're starting to see the inequities that happen when there's too much corruption in politics. There's too much money and too much insider trading in politics. So I think that they're message is definitely in line with ours, in that sense.

Awake Tampa was one of several Awake the State rallies held last night around Florida. But Democrats remain vastly outnumbered in Tallahassee and will once again have little impact during the next legislative session.

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