Sarasota Herald-Tribune | By Steven Walker | June 21, 2022
Sarasota County School Board District 4 candidate Robyn Marinelli said she will not attend a meet and greet campaign event hosted in part by a local Proud Boys activist.
James Hoel, 50, and his wife, Kathy, were listed as RSVP contacts for the event originally scheduled for June 23. The event was set to take place at Island Organics Cafe in Venice, owned in part by Kathy Hoel.
Marinelli’s campaign manager, Collin Thompson, did not answer whether the event was canceled or was planned as a fundraiser. Instead, he responded to coverage and criticism of the event.
“This is a baseless attack orchestrated by Robyn’s liberal opponent and perpetuated by corporate media enablers because of Robyn’s strong commitment to protecting parental rights,” Thompson wrote in a text.
Marinelli is running for one of three School Board seats up for election this cycle. She faces Lauren Kurnov in her Aug. 23 primary election.
Kurnov had commented critically on the planned event.
Hoel appears to identify with the local chapter of the Proud Boys, appearing in pictures wearing the group’s shirts and has attended School Board meetings with the group. He also appeared to be in Washington, D.C., on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, according to a Herald-Tribune analysis of photos and videos taken at the scene.
In an interview with the Herald-Tribune June 6 about the planned event, Marinelli said she did not know Hoel, only that the event itself was scheduled. She said she wants to keep politics out of school School Board races and focus on the students.
“I don’t even know any Proud Boys,” Marinelli said. “If they walked in front of me, I wouldn’t be able to tell you who they are. I don’t identify like that.”