This email is from the son of one of the former Sumter County commissioners who was defeated by a Villages' backed candidate. At this point, The Villages and its developer, Gary Morse, control the entire county politically, and locals (with families) no longer have much of a voice in their government. Although many locals have lived there for many generations, new electoral policies have stacked the cards against them. Why does this matter? A gated geritopia with nearly 100,000 retirees is likely to have different needs and wants than the rest of county's residents. Clashes are already beginning to happen in regards to school funding, public parks, and many many other issues. There's even talk of moving the entire county seat from the center of the county where it has been for more than a hundred years, to the uppermost northeastern corner of the county where Villages' residents live. I found this email to be particularly poignant. Remember, it was written by a teenager....
HERE IT IS:
I just finished reading your book "Leisureville" and I am thoroughly impressed with how entertaining and engaging the writing is. You put so much effort into researching and actually living the Villages life and it easily shows in the writing.
My name is Jarred Chandler, son of former commissioner Joey Chandler. I am 19 and a sophomore at the University of South Florida. Mr. Roberts was my high school Am. Govt. and Econ. teacher. I have known him for a long time so finally being in his class was a treat. He is an excellent instructor and was the first person I would go to with my problems or when I just needed some advice. Anyway, he emailed a few weeks ago and told me their was a book about my world famous father. Even though he was obviously exaggerating I was interested, so I called him and he told me about your book. I went out that day and bought it. It was so refreshing to hear the story told from someone not under the thumb of the villages. Reading about people I knew and places I had been was really cool and kept me turning the pages quicker and quicker.
I know what you mean about the hilarity of their fake history. I went to eat with some family friends at "up the creek". We get there and a guy who works for us from time to time reads the little history placard they have next to the door and starts laughing and tells us that this is all bullshit and he was working cows on the land not long ago and there was no way that all that stuff about the lake was true. We all realized he was right and had a good laugh. It is pretty amusing to see the lengths they will go to, and the lies they will create, to impress their residents.
The only thing I would change about the book is to have more coverage on the election, which is actually a very compelling story. I remember sitting along the side of the road that fall, waiving signs but ultimately I knew it would all be for nothing. I was very heartbroken, not for my father, but for our community. I was actually glad in a weird way that my dad lost. He now would have more time to spend with us and have a lot less stress on his mind.
But anyway it was a great book and is slowly becoming a hit in our little town. Thank you so much for shedding light on a great injustice that was done to our county, and on a problem that is becoming more and more serious as time passes and as more seniors retires. I hope you keep up the good writing and will be looking out for future publications.
Sincerely Jarred Chandler