Atkins Seeks Return to City Hall

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 16, 2017

Editor's Note: This is the first in an eight-part weekly series profiling candidates for Sarasota City Commission.

Fredd “Glossie” Atkins holds the record for longest serving city commissioner in Sarasota history, and now looks to add four more years to his tenure. One of eight candidates running for two at-large seats on the board, Atkins hopes voters see the need for his experience in office. “I have the knowledge and experience and abilities the city is in dire need of now,” he says, “and I believe I am the one to deliver the expertise.”

Voters most recently encountered Atkins' name during his unsuccessful run for Sarasota County Commission, but while he was defeated by Mike Moran in a county-wide election, he won the support of voters within Sarasota’s city limits. But Atkins knows the dynamics of a local election in the spring will be very different from running in a partisan election as a presidential election unfolds. The race did give a chance to explore issues like growth and traffic management in the region, though the issues are not new to the long-time public servant. Atkins logged 18 years on the commission over two stints representing District 1. The first black Sarasota city commissioner, he was chosen by peers as mayor three times.

Today, he sees friction between the city and county on issues like homelessness. “I don’t think they are actually very far apart, but they need a different set of eyes looking into it,” Atkins says. “I have got the skills and ability, and I have a history of making decisions and getting things done.” What would consensus look like? That’s unclear, but Atkins balked a bit when asked whether the city needs a new shelter. “I think the Salvation Army has done one of the finest shelters the city could ever have,” he says.

While in the past, he has sometimes been known for bluntness at the dais, Atkins says he always served his District 1 constituency well. And he says his years at City Hall were times when things got done. “We never had a stagnant era while I was sitting there,” he says. As for today: “I’ll say they do a lot more talking than doing.”

A citywide election is scheduled for March 14, with a runoff likely on May 9. Other candidates include: Tahiti Park neighborhood leader Jennifer Ahearn-Koch; former prosecutor Hagen Brody; incumbent Commissioner Susan Chapman; Planning Board member Patrick Gannon; Gulf Business Systems owner Martin Hyde; pedestrian safety advocate Mikael Sandstrom; and former stockbroker Matt Sperling.

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