Lucas: It's not rocket science. It's Democracy
To: Charter Review Board Members: Alexandra Coe, Richard Dorfman, Joe Justice, Jim Gabbert, Deborah Lapinska, Kennedy Legler, Ray Collins, David Samuel, Scott Williams, Elaine Miller
cc: County Commission: Nancy Detert, Al Maio, Mike Moran, Ron Cutsinger, Christian Ziegler
Re: Single Member Districts review at CRB 10/20/21 meeting
It is difficult to be inspired to write about voting in America. It is difficult to be hopeful when I see a large number of CRB members who clearly walk with Sarasota County status quo politics. However, history will show that Sarasota County has and remains a county that is just like any other deviant county in the U.S., redrawing district lines, wasting money on consultants to shore up political and pro-development strategies, denying people of color the opportunity to run for office or even vote.
Democracy in the United States is under attack. The silliness of all of the obstacles that are put into place to "secure voting" has taken on a new life; a life that has nothing to do with the realities that we, regardless of political affiliation, should be doing everything we can to encourage voting, not discourage or deny. The fact that our very own County Commissioners have implied that the voters of Sarasota were not smart enough to understand why they had voted in favor of Single Member Districts is insulting and misleading. We knew what we were voting for when we voted in favor of Single Member Districts.
We voted for SMD because we want fair and direct representation for our district that we live in. In addition to having our County Commissioner represent our district, we want our Commissioner to make informed decisions based upon the district they represent, combined with the best decisions for the county as a whole. Similar to our state representatives, it's not rocket science. It's democracy.
We voted for SMD because we want fair elections and reasonable access to running for office since it appears citizens have to be in certain clubs to enter the echelon of county seats. We voted for SMD because we believe in democracy - not manipulated democracy such as the recent redistricting that pushed Fredd Atkins out of the commission race against Mike Moran and denied a round of voting for the people of New Town.
For consideration of your upcoming CRB 10/20/21 meeting regarding Single Member Districts, I hope you will all take a minute to step back from what is being asked of you from the County Commission. Each chip away from what the voters have voted for, i.e., Mike Cosentino's amendments, to now this, Single Member Districts, for what? Sarasota elected officials all appear to be on some other frequency from the public.
The majority of Sarasota voters chose Single Member Districts and understood what they were voting for. The majority of respondents from the recent county satisfaction survey showed appreciation for Single Member Districts.
As I have said to some of you in the past, just because you want an outcome to be a certain way, does not mean you should manipulate or devalue the purity of what was voted for by amendments.
CRB has made amendment collection more difficult, thus, neutering most ambition from county voters. It is clear that some of you on the Charter Review Board want your very own board to be retired. Collecting signatures has become an even more daunting chore, compliments the CRB and County Commission. Clearly, citizen input is something that is looked down upon by county boards. Also, the lack of implementation of citizen amendments is disheartening. Clearly, instead of implementing what Sarasota citizens have voted for, both County Commissioners and Charter Board Review members find it easier to purchase flunky consultants to arrive at the same spot of county gridlock. The waste of tax dollars to defy citizen votes is getting to be a very expensive habit for the county.
With all due respect, wouldn't it be easier to look in the mirror knowing your decision reflects the majority of the voters in Sarasota?
We all know redistricting will be implemented to support Ziegler's run for County Commission. Does the county really have to chew away at Single Member Districts or are you all being pushed by Commissioner Ziegler to get this done because he is afraid that he has pissed off so many of his moderate Republican, Independent and Democratic voters by his county leadership to the January 6, 2021 Washington D.C. insurrection?
I hope you all will respect the rule of the voters and request that the County begin its support of Single Member Districts and begin implementing such simple changes as required monthly town hall meetings, active engagement with constituents who write emails, scheduled days in the month when a citizen knows their commissioner is in the office (and not in D.C. encouraging an insurrection) so citizens know that they have a KNOWN day that their commissioner is available for any concerns in their district or county.