Why I'm Skipping the Run | LETTER

Elijah Manley via elijahmanley.com.
Elijah Manley via elijahmanley.com.

This past week, I announced via social media that I would not be running for any elected office in the 2024 election cycle. Yes, I know. Many of you are upset.  

 It was a decision I had made in consultation with my loved ones and my faith. This is not an easy decision, as my heart begs me to serve this community. However, everyone needs a time to rest because burnout is no way to serve. Seasons come and go. I’ve spent the greater part of the past decade devoting my entire life and spirit to politics. Not a day has gone by where I wasn’t running for office, organizing a protest, or speaking at a government meeting. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m burned out. It’s time for a much earned nap, and some horseback riding. 

Just a decade or so ago, I was a kid struggling through extreme poverty and chronic homelessness with a single mother and siblings. As a kid, I never dreamed of this– instead afraid that I would end up like other kids I knew. My kindergarten teacher had ingrained in me that I’d be dead or in jail before I was able to legally drink– and I believed it. I never imagined, not even for a moment that I would have run for public office, nearly being elected to the legislature of the country’s third largest state. I never would have thought that I would be so close to becoming the youngest legislator in the state’s history. I never would have believed you if you would have told me that I’d receive 43,009 votes at age 19.  

Now, just shy of 25 years, I reflect on that journey but close this chapter– for now. I have never claimed to be Mr. Perfect, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way (I’m sure that someone over at the South Florida Sun Sentinel has a steady record of those). I thought I knew everything six years ago, and now I look back and laugh at how little I actually knew. Although that is the case, I am incredibly proud to live in a country where this was possible. I’m proud to live in a country where a young, black gay man can rise from homelessness & poverty to political prominence in just a decade. With scars, and imperfections. That’s what makes America great. That’s the democracy we must defend.  

That democracy is currently under attack from fascist Republicans like Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, and those who wish to roll back our rights along with centuries of progress.  

Our LGBTQ+ community, including our trans community is in very grave danger of genocide. Black communities are threatened with violence and intimidation. The Jewish community is once again the target of far right extremists and nazis. Our ability to live free and thrive in this state and country is at risk. Despite all of this, I am still committed to the American experiment and the American promise– because I’ve seen up close and personal what is possible in this country. Not just in my own life, but throughout history. There have been worse times than this, and we got through them because we continued to use our voice and fight for change. I will continue to use my voice, leveraging the potential of our community to bring about progress. It’s that time again.  

I’ve seen the corrupt and cutthroat nature of politics from behind the scenes, and I can understand why some people become apathetic cynics, but there is no time for cynicism.  

America needs your voice and your participation to keep this vibrant democracy alive and well. I’m young, and I will be back, but there’s a few more things in life I want to experience before that day arrives. Until then, keep dreaming big and keep fighting hard. I know that we will reclaim progress– the American way. I believe in you! 

– By Elijah Manley 

Former candidate for state house 


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Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

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