Single Member District Voting is Good Governance
By Bill Zoller and Tom Matrullo On December 7, 2021, our county commissioners determined to undo the express will of the voters on how commissioners are elected. The Board authorized a special referendum asking us once again whether we really want to augment our voice and voting power through Single Member Districts, or whether we should return to the old, countywide system that’s patently failed us.
On the March 8, Special Election Charter Amendment, we must vote NO on question #2 to keep our voting power.
In 2018, 60 percent of Sarasotans across all five county districts and all parties approved a voter-initiated Charter Amendment in favor of Single Member Districts (SMD). In so doing, we became part of the 67% of Florida residents represented by a County Commissioner elected by voters in a single member district.
When they set this Special Election -- without anyone asking them to do so -- the commissioners stridently claimed that SMD was just "bad governance," while they were firm supporters of "good governance."
In making this claim, the commissioners were in fact accusing the Founders and authors of our Constitution of foisting a system of bad governance on both the Federal government and all state governments.
In reality, democracy under the Federal and Florida Constitutions calls for electing:
- All 435 US Congress representatives by district; - All US senators by district (their districts are just state-sized, as befits the limited number of two senators per state); - All our state legislators by district (what would a resident of the Panhandle know or care about issues in North Port?)
Good governance has built-in accountability and transparent representation. Our Founders devised a democratic structure to bring the people and their government together. This interactive model is at the heart of Single Member Districts.
Populous counties like Sarasota need district-level voting so that people can reach out to their commissioner, and their commissioner can better represent that district’s concerns -- concerns like Red Tide, Mega-Hotels, wastewater spills, insane traffic, giant housing developments and more, all with debilitating impacts to specific areas of the County.
A commissioner elected by district will represent residents who really care about what happens in that district. At the same time, each official continues to serve the county as a whole.
Sarasota's voters were neither confused nor unable to understand what we voted for in 2018. Our commissioners have stubbornly resisted accepting the "YES to Single Member Districts" that the voters gave in 2018 -- and why? Because the Commission cannot serve both their Big Money development masters and the citizens impacted by rampant development.
On March 8, 2022, the citizens of Sarasota County can transmit a big "NO" to the Board's special election ploy to force us back into the old countywide system. Beware of the major propaganda campaign trashing SMD, and don't fall prey to the dark-money PACs telling you to go with countywide voting and give up Single Member District voting power.
Keep your Vote strong and keep Single Member Districts – don’t let the commissioners dilute your vote.
KEEP your district, your vote, your power --
Vote NO on Ballot Question #2: The Board’s March 8th Charter Amendment