Sarasota County commissioners should end efforts to drop single-member districts
Bill Zoller and Pat Rounds
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Attention Sarasota voters! Have you heard the news?
Our county commissioners think that 60% of you are none too bright. They have been quoted as saying that you voted to elect county commissioners by single-member districts, instead of by at-large balloting, because you didn’t understand what you were voting for – and because you were confused by the ballot language.
The county commissioners don’t seem to hold your intelligence in very high regard. They are so convinced that you are incapable of rational thought that they’re building the case for another referendum – a do-over – to give you an opportunity to redeem yourself.
Naturally they’ve mounted an educational campaign – better known as a propaganda campaign – with a biased question on the county’s annual phone “survey." That’s to teach you the correct way to vote the second time around – the way they just know you really meant to vote, but were too confused to manage it. Of course, as taxpayers you will be paying for this propaganda campaign.
While the Sarasota County Commission has the power to put the issue on the ballot on its own, it is trying to convince the Charter Review Board to do its dirty work in October. The commissioners want the board to give them cover because they don’t want you to blame them for trying to negate your previous vote for single-member districts.
It is time to let the commissioners know what you think. It's time to tell them to let your vote for single-member districts stand. It's time to tell them to stop insulting your intelligence with these shenanigans.
The commission should be embracing your decision, not undermining it.
As a reminder, members of the Florida Legislature and U.S. Congress are also elected through single-member districts. And here’s the 2018 ballot language that you understood and endorsed:
Ordinance No. 2018-037: Shall each member of the Board of the County Commissioners of Sarasota County, Florida be elected by only those voters residing in the same district in which the Commissioner resides, rather than having each member of the Board of County Commissioners elected by voters County-wide as presently exists in Article II, Section 2.1 A of the Sarasota County Charter?
Board of Sarasota County Commissioners
This column first appeared in the Herald Tribune of 9.12.2021.