October 15 • Just one day after another leading newspaper announced its preference in the District 1 County Commission contest, the Pelican Press has announced it is endorsing Jono Miller. In doing so, the Pelican Press demonstrated it is willing to look at the complete record and not get derailed by a single issue.
Although it is commonly reported that I am "a professor" at New College, I never have been a member of the faculty and I take pains to clarify that my position as Director of the Environmental Studies Program was an administrative position that allowed me opportunities to teach in collaboration with New College faculty members.
The text of the Pelican Press endorsement appears below.
The Sarasota County Commission District 1 race this year is especially important. The successful candidate must be prepared to create a balanced budget in a time of increasing economic stress and revisit county building and zoning regulations to create new codes.
The strengthening of the urban services boundary by referendum earlier this year places special requirements on the commissioners to weigh carefully urban in-fill development. And the county’s program of sustainability, preservation of natural spaces and park lands will be under stress.
These are challenging matters that demand experience, talent and education of the people who will be addressing them. We are fortunate that one of the candidates in this race not only meets but exceeds these requirements – Jono Miller.
A professor of environmental studies at New College, Miller has participated in countywide environmental assessments for more than 20 years. He is also one of the founders of the Environmentally Sensitive Lands program.
Miller’s campaign is reaching "across the aisle" to the business community by promising a more business-friendly atmosphere in county government. And he is a proponent of in-fill development. His campaign finances show healthy contributions from the development community. For a well-known environmentalist to receive such contributions is a refreshing change, and an example of Miller’s ability to create consensus.
Republican Carolyn Mason, a former city commissioner and mayor of the City of Sarasota, is his principal opponent. She, too, has a long resumé of civic activity at the local and state level. However, we already have one former Sarasota mayor on the commission – Nora Patterson – and we think two mayors would be one too many.
An independent candidate John Mullarkey, is also running as a fiscal conservative. "We’re going into times now where ideology doesn’t count. Numbers count," he said.
All three candidates promise to promote the local economy and preserve the environment. However, two real-time issues show differences between the candidates – building a baseball stadium and reopening Midnight Pass. Mason favors both. Mullarkey wants to reopen the pass and ignore the stadium. Miller thinks the current baseball financing plan "is disingenuous" and does "not feel re-opening the pass is a good investment at this time."
We steadfastly have supported reopening Midnight Pass for two decades, but it is not our only issue. We believe Jono Miller is uniquely qualified in these uncertain times to provide a steady hand at the county commission. Despite his assigning Midnight Pass a low priority, we endorse Miller for the District One seat on the Sarasota County Commission.