Inform Yourself On Whole Ballot In 2020

Under The Hood

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 28, 2019

Whatever the Donald Trump administration has otherwise brought upon America, there has been an increase in voter turnout and political interest. This impacts local politicians as much as it does our federal office-seekers. There were winners in the 2018 election cycle I believe hold office today for the foresight to target more than typical mid-term super-voters.

But with the heightened call of the voting booth, I would ask voters to make one resolution regarding their good citizenship. As candidates knock on your door and reach out through your mailbox, question them on the office they intend to hold.

One thing candidates of all political persuasions will quietly confide to those who will listen is that presidential elections, especially in the Trump era, keep voters focused on federal issues. A school board candidate will never address impeachment inquiries, abortion laws or federal income tax rates, but at some point voters will question them on all these matters.

It would be a ludicrous argument to suggest the presidency is anything less than the most important office on the ballot in 2020. But there’s more to government than the occupant of the White House. Or even the make-up of Congress.

As it happens, voters in Manatee and north Sarasota County will get to vote in a heated Congressional race in 2020, with Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan challenged by Democratic state lawmaker Margaret Good. Voters in south Sarasota will weigh in on the less competitive contest between incumbent Rep. Greg Steube and Democrat Allen Allison.

Every state legislative seat in the region, including two state Senate slots and five state House seats, also will be up for election, with the Manatee Senate seat and a Sarasota area House seat both free of incumbents. Every county constitutional official will also be up in 2020, with Sarasota County voters notably choosing a new sheriff.

But there’s also three Sarasota County Commission seats and four Manatee County Commission seats on the ballot. That means control of both boards will be up for grabs. With single-member districts now in play in Sarasota, the power of a single vote means more in choosing the one representative voters will now have on the five-member board. Two School Board seats in each county will also be up for consideration.

Sarasota’s three city districts will also hold elections, putting the majority of the City Commission in front of voters. The same goes for North Port. Bradenton’s mayorship and two City Council seats are up for election. Four Longboat Key seats, a majority of that board, hit the ballot in 2020, as do two Venice City Council seats, the mayorship and two Commission seats in Anna Maria, Palmetto and Holmes Beach, and two ward seats in Bradenton Beach.

And that’s not to count the fire, mosquito control, water and soil or many special taxing districts with elected offices. Oh yeah, there’s also a number of judgeships  on the county and circuit court benches.

Keeping track of every one of these offices is a full-time job (mine!) but every individual voter will only weigh in on a handful of decisions to make during some election in 2020. Fortunately, there’s an army of candidates who will share for you what these positions do and why they believe themselves the best choice to fill them. Any who deserve your vote will be eager to lay out their plans for the job.

And every one of the office-holders elected will have some role in driving the region’s future. Indeed, many of these officials will make decisions that touch your life more directly—and certainly more frequently—than the actions of the President of the United States.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ MEDIA.

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