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Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Archive

Investigative Peace Web Story

By: Will Benner

On March 10th, Bronson held an election for the vacant City Council seat two where there were two eligible candidates running. Katie Parks Bogart and Jerry L. Mongo squared off against one another but nothing could prepare both candidates for what was coming next. After a machine recount on Wednesday March 11th, the election was deemed a tie. Each member received 77 votes a piece which meant there would be a special runoff election.

That election was held on Tuesday March 24th where there was a better voter turnout. The special election turned out a ten percent increase from the first election and that is believed to have made the difference. The victor, Katie Parks Bogart received 123 votes whereas her competitor, Mr. Mongo received 101. “My whole campaign was based solely on going to people’s houses and knocking on their door and talking to them. Some people may think it’s a little old fashioned but that is what I felt most comfortable doing”, says Bogart on why she believed she won.

Getting it down to Bogart and Mongo wasn’t smooth sailing though. There were originally six people interested in the vacated seat two, one of which was Bronson postal worker Mary Tracey. “Six of us went to one of the council meetings on a Monday night and all six of us including Katie Bogart and Jerry Mongo stood and talked about why we thought we would make a good fit for the council seat”, said Tracey. Tracey and Mongo each received two votes from the council members, and when they voted again none of the council members changed their minds. After that second tie, Tracey decided to not run which left Mongo to run against Bogart.

After all these ties, a simple game of chance could’ve decided the victor. “According to the charter, if there was a tie in the runoff election then we would have had to flip a coin”, says Bronson Mayor Franklin Schuler. As a council, Schuler believes they need to go back to the drawing board to figure out a better way to decide a winner in case of a tie in the runoff election.

Bogart is excited to make a positive impact on the community. “I feel like we have some capable people on the town council, but nobody from my generation,” says Bogart.

This was a special election due to the previous council member retiring which means Bogart will have to run for re-election in September. Bogart says, “I really appreciate the people that did come out and vote. Whether they voted for me or Mr. Mongo, it doesn’t matter. They came out and voted and I appreciate that.”

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Posted by on Apr 19, 2015 in Archive

The Life of Robbie Russell

By: Will Benner

If undergoing a liver transplant at 18-months-old is not enough, try also having a kidney transplant. Robbie Russell, a 25-year-old Telecommunications major at the University of Florida has gone through both of these dangerous and life threatening surgeries in his lifetime.

Russell was born with biliary atresia, a disease that causes bile to remain in the liver, where it starts to destroy liver cells rapidly and causes scarring of the liver. Russell’s parents took him to the doctor to have tests done on him. Robert Russell II, Robbie’s father, said “when the doctors were done testing they called us and said Rob’s liver had scarring beyond repair and that he would be put on a transplant list. We didn’t know what to think or do.” Russell was placed on a transplant list for two months before hearing back from doctors. Unfortunately, hearing that their son needed a transplant was not the only sad news the Russell family would hear. Russell II said, “someone else had to pass for Rob to get the liver transplant, so that is what was really difficult. For someone having to pass for this to happen was very sad.” Fortunately, Russell’s liver hasn’t troubled him since the surgery.

After being put on several medications, Russell’s liver would no longer be his only worry. These medications, specifically cyclosporine, started to damage Russell’s kidneys severely. He began taking a new medication called CellCept at age 14 to hopefully stop the kidney damage, but Russell said that his kidneys had already been severely damaged. At the age of 22, Russell would undergo a kidney transplant. Russell and his father toured a dialysis physicality when finding out that he would indeed need another transplant.  Russell said, “I remember walking in and seeing all the people and machines, it was just really sad and eire. I just prayed that I wouldn’t have to stay there.” After struggling to find a match for Russell’s kidney, the only person who could donate a kidney was his father. Russell said, “I was down to 12 percent kidney function, so 12 percent from pretty much dying; I mean it really opened up my eyes to a whole new way to enjoy life.”

Russell’s kidney transplant was a success. Russell II said, “the surgery brought Robbie and I even closer. Not that we were that far apart anyways, but I’m glad I was there for him and if i had to do it all over again I would.

When asked about his original donor family, Russell said, “I really cherish what my donor family has done. I have part of their child inside me, so I want to be successful for them.”

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