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A citizen's SMD questions go unanswered

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Tuesday, Sept.. 28, 2021.

Before the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners was shown the results of the 2021 Citizen Survey, they were challenged about their prolonged effort to undermine Single-Member Districts (SMD)—the 2018 referendum endorsed by a strong majority of county voters.

Despite including a premature and negatively slanted SMD question on the 2021 County Citizens Survey, respondents waded through the County’s verbal “sludge” and endorsed SMD for a second time.

Sarasota resident Pat Rounds addressed a series of questions to the Board:

In 2018, 60% of county voters endorsed Single-Member Districts (SMD) for County Commission in all five districts across party lines.
But last November you claimed that voters were confused in 2018—sowing seeds of doubt immediately after the first three Districts elected Commissioners by SMD.
Then in May, you stated that SMD had had “its trial run” and asked the Charter Review Board to assess its impact---knowing that Districts 1, 3 and 5 had elected Commissioners only a few months earlier, and that Districts 2 and 4 won’t vote for County Commission until November 2022. That’s your idea of a trial run?
Your May meeting only got worse when you decided to place an SMD question on the Annual County Survey as a vehicle to redo the 2018 election results. One of you even snidely linked SMD to a survey question about septic tanks--calling SMD another “sludge problem”.
Let’s look at how that SMD question fared on the 2021 County Survey. Here are the results of the SMD question. Respondents favored SMD by more than 60% this time. Not even close to a sludge problem, right?
The people of Sarasota County have now told you twice that they want direct representation and accountability for County Commissioners. Will you finally listen?
We elect the FL Legislature and US Congress by SMD. At least a dozen other FL Counties elect their County Commissions by SMD. It’s a long-established voting method.
Please stop any review of SMD as a step on a path to justify a repeal effort. Each District should experience SMD for at least a full term before any “review” is even considered. Do you agree?

The Commissioners had no response to any questions posed, and resorted to desperate defenses after the consultant’s formal presentation.

That Commissioner Ziegler still opposes SMD is irrelevant. He should respect the voters’ support of District-level representation and accountability.

Useful Links:

Sarasota County Commission resistance to Single Member District Voting

The Report on the 2021 Citizen Opinion Survey

Board hides from truth of its own opinion survey

CDP Alternative Survey on Single Member Districts

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