A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Eight Former Sarasota Mayors Endorse Jono Miller for the County Commission
October 23 • Three mayors were missing when five former City Of Sarasota mayors gathered on the Sarasota bayfront recently for an unprecedented photo. The eight mayors are all endorsing Jono Miller, candidate for Sarasota County Commission from District One. Mayors at the gathering included Mollie Cardamone, William Kline, Richard Martin, David Merrill, and Rita Roehr. Mayors Fredd Atkins, Mary Anne Servian, and Jack Gurney didn't make the impromptu reunion. The eight city leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, represent a surprising show of political unity that boosts Miller's claims that he not only knows the county better than his opponents, but also has significant city credentials. Their bipartisan show of support adds to his growing list of organizational and personal endorsements.
"Jono is very knowledgeable of the county issues and needs. He has the experience and leadership to make some much needed positive change for Sarasota County," Former Democratic mayor Mollie Cardamone commented. Former Republican mayor Rita Roehr added, "Jono has only the best interest of Sarasota County in mind."
Miller said the numerous endorsements were the result of his work with city leaders over more than three decades: "My opponent kept emphasizing the valuable insight and experience that comes from being mayor, so I decided to call some of the former mayors I had worked with. I asked 13. One said she was already committed to my opponent, four said they would be neutral, and eight said they would endorse me."
"I am deeply honored because not only do these mayors know the city and its relationship to the county commission, but they also know my opponent and myself. They are therefore uniquely qualified to offer opinions about what kind of county leadership are needed and their overwhelming support for my candidacy speaks for itself."
Miller's Republican opponent, Carolyn Mason, lists just one former mayor on her website, Republican Lou Ann Palmer.
After the photo shoot the bipartisan group headed to a local restaurant to reminisce about the city and discuss the challenges Jono will face on the commission.
Although Miller once lived outside the city in the unincorporated county for twelve years, his record of service to the city stretches back to 1977 when he was appointed to the City's Parks and Recreation Board at age 26. For the past 16 years, Miller has been at the center of the county's environmentally sensitive lands program, which has protected nearly 45 square miles of local shorelines, hammocks, and prairies. Despite receiving the County's Lifetime Achievement award for his conservation work, Miller says his perspective has broadened in recent years.
"The metaphor is I no longer color with just the green crayons. I'm deeply committed not only to the wild areas of the county, but the cities as well – if the cities aren't working, people will leave, creating decay and sprawl."
The restaurant conversation included not only national topics that ranged from Wall Street to Wasilla, but also the difficult local economic situation the new commission will face in November. Miller conceded the commission will have to deal with tough choices, but said he is ready to focus on steps to re-energize the local economy.
"The county, SCOPE and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce have all recently announced major efforts to understand and support the local economy and I'm committed to all three. I think our goal needs to be to make Sarasota County simultaneously known for its environment-friendly businesses and its business-friendly environment."
In addition to his environmental leadership, Jono has volunteered his time and talent by serving in leadership positions on numerous boards and committees geared to improving the community. Jono has served as president of the New College Alumnae Association Board, on SCOPE (where he served a term as chairman and was co-chair of the project on Aging), on the board of his neighborhood association, on the Booker Elementary School's Student-Parent Management Team, and was recruited by the county commission to serve on the Sarasota County Citizen Oversight Committee on Voting Systems, which he ended up chairing.