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Letter to the Editors of the Sarasota Observer

To the Editors:

You seem to have missed a big story: In September 2021, a Venice chiropractor might have won the November 2022 County Commission election.

Dr. Joe Neunder wants the District 4 Commission seat, which includes Benderson’s Siesta Promenade as well as Siesta Key, where residents are fighting a slew of mega-hotels. When Dr. Neunder declared his candidacy, he chipped in $10,000. Donors raced to shower more than $95,000 upon him, and there's plenty of time to raise more. The largesse poured from the Neals and Jensens, Bendersons and Gabberts, Cannons, Medreds, Merrills, Baileys, Bisphams, Boones et al -- the elite syndicate of developers, land use planners, builders, contractors, Realtors, lawyers etc. whose livelihoods rely on pro-growth decisions of the Board.

But why over $100,000? In a county-wide election, you must reach 350,000 potential voters. But a good candidate competing on issues that matter to real people can’t be overwhelmed by special interest money when campaigning in a compact district of just 70,000 voters. Did the donor developers, along with the incumbent commissioners, convince Dr. Neunder that they had a plan to crush Single Member Districts come March 8? Much as Eric Robinson stuffed his war chest with dark moolah in 2015-16, Dr. Neunder’s treasure pile could be high enough to scare off potential challengers in a county-wide election. BUT - by voting NO on the Board’s March 8 Charter Amendment, citizens -- not power brokers -- will decide whether money will continue to be the deciding difference in Sarasota County.

Tom Matrullo Lake Sarasota

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