Republican Cindy Tindell sees need for change in local GOP

Imagine for a moment a high school student in 1979 – still too young to vote – approaching local merchants in her hometown of Juneau, Alaska, getting permission to put up presidential election posters for Ronald Reagan.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and that woman has taken her political involvement to even higher levels in South Florida — running a county Republican club, taking her message to other GOP organizations and raising thousands of dollars for candidates, among other things.

Such is the energetic life of Cindy Tindell, a vice president of Florida Power & Light affiliate NextEra Energy, recipient of three degrees from prestigious universities and member of the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s Executive Committee.

She still recalls the posters in Juneau: “I remember walking down the street, looking in store windows and saying, ‘I put that up.’

Her association with Reagan didn’t end there. She served as a staff assistant in President Reagan’s National Security Council at the White House, supporting foreign policy staff while attending college and studying full-time during the summers of 1984 and 1985.

Tindell is now a candidate for state committeewoman for the Palm Beach County Republican Party. She is challenging 24-year incumbent Fran Hancock for the seat. If Hancock wins, she will be in public office for an incredibly long 28 years – over a quarter-century. The election, open to all registered Republicans, will be held Aug. 14.

If elected, Tindell would be one of two people representing the county organization for the Republican Party of Florida. The current state committeeman, Peter Feaman, has not drawn an opponent or announced a re-election bid.

As a committeewoman, Tindell’s job would be to support Republicans for election to various offices, raise money and “keep affairs in order.” In many ways, those tasks mirror what she has already been doing. Active with the Palm Beach County REC since 2004, Tindell has led county poll watch programs, worked phone banks and walked neighborhoods.

She is currently president of the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches and a member of several county clubs, including the Boca Raton Republican Club and Palm Beach Republican Club.

Just this year alone, she raised $35,000 for Mitt Romney, her choice for the 2012 GOP presidential candidacy. She also collected thousands for John McCain and George Bush and, locally, for such candidates as Adam Hasner, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Allen West, George LeMieux, Tom Rooney and Feaman.

Tindell said her fire for politics and her conservative bent were stoked early in life by scenes surrounding the Vietnam War.

“When I was little,” she said, “I remember seeing these stringy-haired kids talking about how they hated America. Then, in the 1970s, I saw how the unions were causing the downfall of America. Ronald Reagan was running. I read his campaign literature. I understood it. So I volunteered.”

Tindell moved out of Juneau, and made her way through Washington, D.C., and New York before arriving in Palm Beach County. Along the way, she received a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown, a master’s in international affairs from Columbia and an MBA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.

Tindell took a cue and got out of D.C. when she said she discovered “it was a place for ideas, but not for results. I’m a doer and I get things done.” She saw the Capitol mired in red tape, with a system designed to be “time-consuming.”

After working in the public sector, she opted for a private-sector job, where this self-described Type A personality feels much more at home.

Concerned about the economy, she said “it will improve.” She feels the recovery is stifled by “a lack of confidence,” but that it has started to turn for the good. “If we can elect a Republican this year,” she said, “confidence will be restored.”

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