By Erin Schoch As chairman of the Alachua County Republican Party, Prince planned the 2017 Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ event. Prince said: “It might have been because of the speaker. It might have been because of President Trump. It might have been because the people of Alachua County are tired of having to stay behind closed doors and decided to come out [to] support their party—that’s why I think they did it.” Politics is a touchy subject, and can leave individuals feeling ostracized among their peers. With Alachua County leaning Democrat in the 2017 election, Prince shares the discrimination she has felt as a Republican within her blue environment.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Does your family identify as a Republican?
A: My father actually ran for mayor in Jacksonville as a Democrat—I was brought up a Democrat, and I saw right away that I didn’t agree with what all [my father] said. But, unlike here, it was reversed and Republicans were being bad to him as a Democrat up in Jacksonville. So I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do this, but it’s very different today—especially with social media. With my dad they came with all their big crews and they didn’t have time, it was live, so they didn’t have time to cut and paste anything. So that’s where I see the most changes: in the media. And I can see where people get upset and where there’s fake news and there’s real news because some of that fake news has been cut and pasted but it really isn’t the words that had come out of the person’s mouth.
It used to be a family rule [to not talk politics]. My daughter in law is a Democrat. Our son is a Republican, but she’s a die-hard Democrat so I respect her views. I respect her opinions. She’s constantly dropping hints about she’s not agreeing with what the Democrats are doing to the Republicans right now.
Q: How often does the ACR meet?
A: We meet monthly. This year, I took over. The committee woman from Alachua County, they have a business, and they just built a building so they’ve made it accessible to us. We meet there every single month. It’s really exciting to have a plan because prior to this [the ACR] were jumping all over the county and we’re accepted or not accepted so we never knew where our meetings would be. It’s nice to be able to have one place to go to have a meeting.
Q: What does the ACR do?
A: We are a third party registration and so we are able to register people to vote either Democrat, Republican or nonpartisan. We, in Alachua County, do not acknowledge nonpartisans, so we try to persuade them to register either Republican or Democrat. We’re very nonpartisan in that way. We do not advertise at all that we are Republicans, we just want people to be able to administer their right to vote.
Q: When you are at work, do you try to keep your political affiliation a secret?
A: No. I work within Alachua County [but] I work outside the city of Gainesville. Gainesville, if you can picture a donut, that circle, is all the Democrats. So all the outer bands of that donut are the Republicans—or the majority of Republicans. And I happen to work in the outer part. So no, it’s awesome to go to work every day.
Today I actually counted because I knew I was going to be with you tonight. There were seven of my patients that had either Trump or Republican shirts on. Where in Gainesville, it’s very rare that you find anyone wearing anything Republican in the community.
Q: When you are out and see someone with a Republican shirt, how do you react?
A: If I see someone with a Republican shirt on, or even someone with a bumper sticker, I always honk… give them a thumbs up. If someone is standing on the street, you know, holding a Trump sign, I always honk… thumbs up.
Today I happened to have a patient that had on a wonderful fishing hat and it was a flag with fish on it rather than stars and stripes and I said, “Oh I just love your hat.” She said, “I just love Trump.” And I said, “Well I do too!”
So no, I do not withhold my political feelings.
Q: Do you still experience people looking down on you?
A: Yes, but I’ve learned to accept that… and that’s just the way it’s going to be in Alachua County.
Even some of my husband’s friends, and he’s a Republican too, they just don’t want to be around us anymore… and it’s nothing that we have done, it’s because we voted for Trump. And how they know—I mean I guess they assumed we voted for him because we’re Republican. Of course we don’t go out and advertise that. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know that I’m chairman of the party. It’s not something that I go out and actively talk about, but that is what I am.
Q: Do you think it will ever become easier to be a Republican in Alachua County?
A: I think so. I’m hopeful. My personal goal, is within the next three years is [for] Alachua County to become purple… not so blue. So with the purple then... I’m hopeful.