A blog dealing with Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What kind of leader should replace Shannon Staub?

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)

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