PRESS RELEASE Citizens to Board: Stop Wasting Our Time and Tax Dollars
November 30, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Citizens to Board: STOP WASTING OUR TIME AND TAX DOLLARS On Tuesday, December 7, 2021 Sarasota County Commissioners will consider using a Special Election to undo a voting initiative approved by 60 percent of county voters just three years ago.
Despite abundant evidence that residents were not “confused” in 2018 when they approved a Charter Amendment establishing Single Member Districts, the Board intends to put the issue before voters, possibly as soon as March 2022 -- before 40 percent of Sarasotans exercise their first district vote.
Reasons vary for the Board’s opposition to being elected by the voters who know them best. Commissioner Al Maio originally suggested that people misunderstood the 2018 ballot, which gave voters in each of Sarasota County’s five districts sole power to vote for their district Commissioner. Previously all five Commissioners were elected by all voters countywide.
Commissioner Mike Moran floated the theory that voters were tricked by “sly operatives” seeking to elect Democrats. Analysis of the 2018 vote shows that Single Member Districts received overwhelming approval as good government by Republicans, Independents, and Democrats across all five districts.
Advocates for Single Member Districts (SMDs) say the real issue is accountability. Commissioners hold the power to approve, modify, or deny proposals for large housing projects, commercial development, roadwork, and other land uses that can dramatically impact neighborhoods.
“When my district Commissioner votes to allow a dump near a bird sanctuary, or an oversized hotel on a small barrier island, I want them to understand that we are watching, and there will be electoral consequences,” said Bill Zoller, an architect and long-time advocate for smart and sensible growth.
Sarasota County has grown too large for countywide Commission elections. It can cost $100,000 or more to campaign from the airport to North Port -- five times more than it takes to run in a single district. It’s also difficult to keep in touch with constituents countywide -- voters often know little about Commissioners in other districts -- not even their names -- diluting accountability.
“Look around Florida,” said Pat Rounds, a founding member of Citizens for District Power (CDP). “Eleven of the 15 largest counties elect all or a majority of their Commissioners by Single Member Districts.”
“For years, people who care deeply about the impact of rampant growth on our quality of life have brought their concerns to the Board,” said CDP’s Glenna Blomquist. “Virtually every time, the developers get everything they ask for, and our neighborhood concerns are ignored.”
Over the summer, a professional survey conducted for the County at a cost of $89,045 asked randomly selected residents about single member districts and reported that 60 percent of respondents favor SMDs.
Bottom Line: Single-Member Districts give Sarasota County residents a greater voice in our future – a voice currently overpowered by a small group of developers and special interests.
Contact: Pat Rounds | 410-703-0477 | email@example.com |