Seminole County Supervisor of Election claims racism among political colleagues, own party – WFTV

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Christopher Anderson, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections for Seminole County, is speaking out about the racism he claims he has faced since he was first appointed by Governor DeSantis in 2019.

He took it to social media recently, posting a video after a recent trip to a big box store, calling out the racism he experienced.

“This is excessive; why are you scanning everything in my basket? To where, you know, it’s holding up the line, you know, even other people are noticing it.” Anderson says of the incident at the store.

The conservative Republican’s rant on racism then moved on to his experience as the Supervisor of Elections.

Calling out the County commissioners, County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, and his political party.

“Day two in office. I was told by a group of white men, Republicans, why people consider you as a black person, dumb, stupid, and you’re going to mess something up,” Anderson told Eyewitness News. ” It was my second day on the job; I had just been appointed– I’ve tried everything I can to prove them wrong.”

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Anderson said he’s done that– becoming the first African American elected to a county office and winning national awards for his office’s work with elections.

But, he said his colleagues seem to always require more from him than his white counterparts.

During a May budget hearing this year, he provided more information than what was provided in the past.

“The Committee Chairman, she says, hey, look, we’re not asking you for anything we haven’t asked anyone else–Well, Andria Herr steps up and says, Oh no, to be clear, I am asking him for more,” Anderson said.

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In a statement to Eyewitness News, Commissioner Andria Herr wrote:

“The citizens of Seminole County expect and demand that the BCC implement fiscally responsible practices. When Mr. Anderson asked for in excess of a 25% increase to his budget, questions were asked. Since the Supervisor of Elections took office in 2019, his budget has almost doubled. I plan to continue to question budget submissions from County staff and Seminole County Constitutional Officers consistent with the legal requirements of my office because not doing so would be a dereliction of office.”

According to the county, Anderson received all but $200,000.

The County Clerk of Courts had his budget request slashed by a million dollars.

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“The Board of County Commissioners takes accusations of racism very seriously. There is no room for discrimination of any kind in Seminole County,” Amy Lockhart, Chair of the County Commissioners for Seminole County, told Eyewitness News in a statement. “We welcome the public and the media to watch for themselves the interactions referenced by the Supervisor of Elections, as these occurred during our public meetings.”

Anderson, who was a Seminole County deputy before he got into politics, also called out his former boss, Sheriff Dennis Lemma, over a brief encounter between Anderson’s wife and a deputy in a Lake Mary parking lot in November of 2022. Anderson claims the deputy racially profiled his wife.

“She’s on the phone. She can feel this intense, unwarranted stare coming from a Deputy Sheriff she doesn’t understand; I’m not doing anything wrong. Why am I getting this treatment? Why is he looking at me this way?” he said.

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Anderson said after his wife got out of her car, so did the deputy. He stopped her and said, “I thought you dropped something.” She didn’t drop anything, and he knew she hadn’t dropped anything.

Anderson said he reported the incident to the sheriff and remembers being told the deputy’s version of events that day.

“The deputy said that your wife was suspicious for going in a purse,” Anderson said. ” I’m a 13-year law enforcement veteran with multiple years of criminal investigation experience– That was a moment in which you should have questioned that deputy a little further.”

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In a statement, the sheriff said the encounter was brief.

Initially, a preliminary review determined that the deputy noticed a piece of paper on the ground near where Anderson’s wife parked, and the deputy asked her if she dropped something, which she indicated she had not, and then each party positively parted ways.

The Andersons never filed a formal complaint against the deputy.

But Anderson said the story the deputy told changed.

“I can tell you from an investigation’s perspective, now that you have conflicting statements, you have something did; why did the story change all of a sudden?” he said.

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According to the sheriff’s statement, Sheriff Lemma personally met with Supervisor Anderson on Nov. 16, 2022, and Dec. 2 to discuss the incident and their concerns.

After a preliminary review of the interaction, Sheriff Lemma updated Supervisor Anderson, including clarifying incorrect information that the deputy thought Mrs. Anderson’s behavior was suspicious, which a supervisor had initially conveyed.

Anderson said the sheriff’s answer was different from what he expected. “You could have done something–As a matter of fact, one of the things we were told working there is we never tell someone; there’s nothing we can do. That’s exactly what was told to me– So I’m helpless at this point.” Anderson said.

The statement adds that Sheriff Lemma informed Supervisor Anderson that the agency would investigate the incident the same way they would investigate any other complaint if a formal complaint was received.

SCSO Executive Command Staff members attempted to contact Supervisor Anderson to walk him through the complaint process, and neither the Supervisor nor Mrs. Anderson pursued further action.

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