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What are your thoughts on this woman at the City Council meeting in Panama City Beach?


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PANAMA CITY — It had been almost a month since the election of President Donald Trump, and Bay County resident Nichole Newell still was “in a funk.”

Her frustration with the outcome was making her downcast, right up until her husband saw a message on Twitter offering her a chance to do something.

“It was the Women’s March, and he showed it to me, and he said, ‘Would you want to do this?’ ” she recalled. “I had never done anything like it before in my life. It was incredible. We ran into people from Albany, Georgia, which is just as conservative as here — maybe more so, and it was nice to see that many people felt like I did.”

Since the Women’s March, Newell has come out of her funk, channeling that energy into a newfound passion for political activism. Like thousands of people across the country, she has moved from politically aware to politically involved, attending protests, calling her representative and joining groups such as Bay Indivisible.

“I even created the petition to get Rep. Neal Dunn to hold a town hall,” Newell said.

Political activism has surged in recent months throughout the country, with more people taking a more active role in government. In Bay County, groups like the Democratic Women’s Club and Bay Indivisible have seen their numbers swell.

“People admit to us they have never called their congressman before or never been politically active, but (Trump) just makes them so angry,” said Candice Burgess, president of the Democratic Women’s Club.

A showman by nature, Trump always has elicited strong reactions — sometimes cheering crowds of thousands like at his campaign rallies, and sometimes thousands of protesters marching in the streets, such as at the Women’s March on Washington.

The reactions can be visceral.

Terry Rubin-Holloway, generally a rather quiet person, found herself standing out on 23rd Street the weekend after the election, waving a political sign.

“It’s mostly the fear factor. I don’t feel as secure at all,” said Rubin-Holloway, explaining her involvement. “We made such great strides and we’re going back.”

Rubin-Holloway said she had never been particularly political. She entered adulthood right after the Vietnam War, when protesting still was something people were “teased” about. She said she was complacent, trusting society would continue to move forward.

Now, she says, she’s found a voice.

“I don’t want to have any regrets. ... My children are proud of me,” she said, noting her daughter attended the march in D.C. “I’m proud of me. I feel like I am doing something instead of wringing my hands.”

Like Newell, Crim and Rubin-Holloway are two of the more than 100 members of Bay Indivisible, the local chapter of the Indivisible movement, which sprang up after the election with the purpose of resisting the Trump agenda.

The crew joining Bay Indivisible have included disgruntled Republicans, people who are are not affiliated with a party and many women, said Burgess, being careful to note she is not in a leadership role, just a member of Indivisible. She said she has been particularly impressed with the number of young moms who have joined.

“They’re extremely busy,” she said. “For them to find the time, that shows more than anything else how disgruntled people are.”

One disgruntled mother is Alissa Guay, who found new dedication to politics.

“Political activism doesn’t really end at the voting booth. It’s holding your representative accountable ... and even educating your peers,” she said.

In Bay County, she said it sometimes seems like “Democrat” is considered a dirty word, but she’s found out there are “a lot of us” brought out in recent months. One of her favorite experiences was during Dunn’s town hall, where she was impressed by the questions with which he was being challenged.

“I think some things had an impression, but I don’t think it changed his mind,” she said. “But we let him know there are other voices out there, and we are paying attention.”

Newell, Crim and Guay all said they regularly are calling their officials and distributing information. Rubin-Halloway said she’s “slacking” on her calling because she is in the process of moving, but has other plans to stay involved. Some of them traveled to the March for Science this weekend in Tallahassee, and all said they have plans to continue to work with Bay Indivisible.

“It’s a good thing to participate,” Guay said. “I don’t care if you are a Democrat or on the other side. It’s good to be involved.”

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