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LTE: County taking unfair advantage of voters

The concept of “a fair fight” is so basic that most children understand it easily. The upcoming referendum on single-member districts (SMD) raises broader issues of democracy and “a fair fight” between voters and county commissioners.

Regardless of one’s view of SMD, the referendum is a clear example of elected officials using unfair advantage to defeat the will of the voters (“Sarasota County's March election will determine the future of single-member districts,” Dec. 7).

The first area of unfair advantage is the use of a different standard to overturn a citizen initiative than to initially approve it. As a citizen-initiated amendment, SMD had to surpass a 60% threshold for adoption. In contrast, the County Commission amendment to revoke SMD requires a lower threshold of 50% plus 1 of a typically lower referendum turnout.

The second area of unfair advantage is that commissioners can lobby against SMD while conducting county business. They have not been shy about criticizing SMD during commission meetings paid for with our taxes.

In the end, money is power.

Voters have two decisions in the March referendum. The first is whether SMD should stand. The second is whether to revoke any citizen initiative in an unfair fight with elected officials.

Carol Hartz, Sarasota

Herald Tribune 12.26.21

Editor's note: State referendums require 60% to pass; Sarasota's Charter has a 50% + 1 requirement.

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