Joe Barbetta Files for Sarasota City Commission, District 2

Todays News


The Sarasota City Commission race in District 2 just attracted a high-profile candidate. Joe Barbetta, a Sarasota County Commissioner who served from 2006 through 2014, submitted his paperwork Monday to run.

“I’ve just been watching what’s going on and it seems like some changes need to be made,” said Barbetta. “My property taxes are going up— surprisingly with the new construction going on. And I have been watching some of the meetings and it seems dysfunctional.”

Barbetta will challenge incumbent Commissioner Liz Alpert. His entry makes it a six-person contest, with Ascend Wireless Networks' Don Patterson, former City Commissioner Terry Turner, retired commodities trader Jerry Wells and Gulf Business Systems' Martin Hyde also running. The qualification deadline in Friday at noon.

Challenging Alpert seems especially notable considering Barbetta offered the then-candidate advice in 2015 on how to unseat then-incumbent Eileen Normile. But Barbetta said he’s been disappointed in the commission the last four years. “I helped her and [now District 3 Commissioner] Shelli Freeland Eddie but that was based on the promise they move the election to November and possibly consider a strong mayor,” Barbetta said. Ultimately, the commission took up neither issue, though a citizen initiative did lead to the rescheduling of elections.

But his concerns with the city don’t stop there. He felt while he served on the county that there was progress toward a come-as-you-are shelter in North Sarasota, but city resistance derailed that effort. Seven years later, a site Barbetta had in mind remains city-owned and vacant, and downtown still has a visible homeless problem, he said.

Barbetta since leaving the commission has continued consulting work, including at Nathan Benderson Park. He lists developing sports tourism, including turning that park into a rowing venue, as a chief achievement of his time in office. Barbetta also led county negotiations on a 30-year spring training deal with the Baltimore Orioles. That said, both county efforts have had detractors for years.

Barbetta served 14 years on the county Planning Board before holding county office, and said he remains interested in public service. Mostly, he feels Sarasota deserves to be a more successful mid-sized city the likes of Saratoga, New York, Asheville, North Carolina or Greenville, South Carolina. And he hopes to lead it there from the commission dais.

Photo of Joe Barbetta

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