A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
THIS BLOG ENTRY IS THE FIFTH IN A SERIES DEALING WITH THE SUCCESSOR TO COMMISSIONER SHANNON STAUB. Today is a day to, without impugning Commissioners Patterson and Barbetta, thank Mark Hawkins and Cathy Antunes. For regardless of the outcome tomorrow, for the first time since 2000 the majority of the Sarasota County Commission will be serving as a result of the entire electorate having had a chance to vote for or against them in the most recently held election for their seat.
Right now, for instance, on the First of November 2010, only one commissioner, Carolyn Mason, can say that the last time there was a possibility for District seat to change hands that electorate chose her over a candidate from another party. The other four commissioners were either unopposed the last time they ran, or won in a closed primary that excluded the majority of county voters.
So when the next commission is seated, whether incumbent or new face, the Commissioners from Districts 2 and 4 will have something more closely approximating a mandate than those presently serving.
It would be inappropriate to blame Commissioners Thaxton, Staub, Patterson, and Barbetta for the lack of previous Democratic or Independent challenges to their candidacy. In fact, the lack of opposition no doubt reflects not only both their political power as Sarasota Republicans, but also general county-wide satisfaction with their leadership.
No, it is the Democrats and Independents, whose registration accounts for about two thirds of Sarasota voters who need to take responsibility for the historic lack of organized opposition. But this year they are doing their part, with Democrat Mark Hawkins challenging Nora Patterson and Independent Cathy Antunes taking on Joe Barbetta for the only two seats that expire this year. Whatever the outcome, at least we can say the entire electorate will have had a say in three fifths of the commission.
It is worth noting that he other two current commissioners each can stake a claim to being the most popular commissioners ever. While District Five Commissioner Jon Thaxton is only serving his third term so far, he hasn’t faced a Republican opponent since 2004, Democrats and Independents have never challenged him, and a write-in candidate made him the top all time vote getter, pulling in over 107,000 votes. District Three Commissioner Shannon Staub has been elected four times (only Bob Anderson topped that), also facing Republican challengers only twice and, like Thaxton, has never appeared on a ballot against a Democrat or Independent. Based on their experience, political skill, and popularity, each would have to be favored in the 2012 elections, if they chose to run.
While Commissioner Thaxton’s intentions are unknown, Commissioner Staub’s announced departure ensures that, whatever the fate of Patterson and Barbetta, we will be looking at a new Commission next year.
And, now that the voting will be behind us, perhaps the media and citizenry can focus their attention on the third race, moving from election of two to the selection of one.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
THIS BLOG ENTRY IS THE FOURTH IN A SERIES DEALING WITH THE SUCCESSOR TO COMMISSIONER SHANNON STAUB. As mentioned in a previous blog posting on Shannon Staub’s successor, the Englewood Sun called for “someone with a strong South County background and a strong voice.” So I have to ask, is it just me, or has the silence been deafening?
Everyone seems to know and expect that applicants for the District 3 seat will be working back-channel access to the Governor, trying to narrow six degrees of separation to one or two. And any contenders that may have the Governor’s number on their cell phones can be expected to place a call. This sort of behind the scenes jockeying is part of our political process and is actually somewhat explicit because the gubernatorial appointment form (Question 27) asks for three persons who have known you well for the past five years. This is not the place where applicants list two neighbors and their favorite barista (unless a neighbor or the barista knows the Governor). Which happens.
But is that it? Everyone keeps their head down, seeks out contacts that might put in a good word in Tallahassee, but otherwise tries to stay out of sight? What about the strong voices? The Republicans held auditions that I believe afforded everyone present three minutes to test their voices. But since then, what has been heard?
If any readers are aware of any blog postings, interviews, letters to the editor or any other public pronouncements from others vying for the seat, please use the comment section to let me know. Because I am not hearing or seeing much.
As promised I’m attaching my responses to my own form below. Please read the previous blog entry if this seems perplexing.
Yes, I know it is small. It's a pdf and if you click on it you should be able to enlarge and read it. If you are reading this on Sarasota Speaks, the pdf may not be visible. If not, click on FULL ARTICLE to go to the original blog entry.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Before the pixels faded on the darting emails announcing Commissioner Staub’s decision to step down, the Republican Party issued a communiqué asserting that the appointment needed to be a Republican, based on the fact that Commissioner Staub is a Republican and the assertion that District 3 is a predominantly Republican district.
There’s no getting around the fact that Commissioner Staub is a Republican, so that logic makes a certain amount of sense. But Commissioner Staub is also a woman. Does that mean her replacement needs to be a woman? She grew up outside of Florida, so should the Governor avoid a native? She lived in Canada. Does that mean who ever follows should have extensive experience outside the country? She has been committed to working on water policy. Does the appointment need to be hydrophilic?
The flaw in cherry-picking any one aspect of Commissioner Staub's many attributes is that it begs the question of which aspect or aspects are central to the appointment of a successor and which are not. Maybe being a Republican is central. Maybe her approach to leadership is more so. The Governor will decide.
The Republican leadership could have argued her replacement needs to be a Republican because all our county Commissioners are always Republican. And if you didn’t get here before 1971, that’s certainly true. That fact may call into question whether we have a functioning two party system in the County, but as a general rule you wont lose much money betting that all Sarasota County Commissioners are Republicans.
But instead, their press release argued that District 3 is predominantly Republican – an assertion that does not appear to be supported by the facts. In fact, District 3 is predominantly non-Republican, as is Sarasota County. Republicans represent less than 45% of the voters, and constitute less than a third of the overall population of the County. And in District 3 Republicans account for only slightly more than 40% of the voters.
So, if the Governor wanted to appoint someone who represented the predominance of the county (or District 3), that would be some non-Republican, a type of Commissioner we haven’t seen in forty years in Sarasota.
In addition to calling for a Republican, the party skipped what may seem like obvious requirements of knowing something about the County and District 3 and quickly stated it should be a resident of District 3. In political circles, the term “resident” is frequently used so loosely as to be nearly meaningless.
In this case, “resident” apparently means someone willing to contact a realtor to create conditions that would make it appear they could sleep in District 3 without imposing on a friend or getting a motel room, should they happen to be appointed.
The Englewood Sun came much closer to the mark when its editorial called for “someone with a strong South County background and a strong voice.”
(To be continued)