Embrace Change, Welcome Rooney

Guest Correspondence

BY CHRISTINE ROBINSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY FEB 20, 2016

Most of us can easily rattle off a litany of lists on which Sarasota County tops, including best beaches, best place for well-being, best place to retire, etc. Now we also boast the best of both worlds regarding our Congressional representation.

While political districts and boundaries have been a hotly debated topic over the past year, it is time to embrace the new changes. Last month, Argus members and guests got to know Sarasota’s newest Congressman, U.S. Representative Tom Rooney, at the January Meet the Minds luncheon. It was the first time the Congressman had visited Sarasota since redistricting assigned him to represent southern Sarasota County last December.

Our county is now divided between two lawmakers, Rooney and U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan. While it is human nature to resist change, it is important for Sarasotans to realize how fortunate this move was for our County.

Yes, Sarasota is now split into two congressional districts; however, we also now have two representatives who sit on two of the most influential committees in Congress. Buchanan serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rooney on the Appropriations committee; this is notable.

While the redistricting plan continues to be criticized, the time has come for us to acknowledge the benefits of this opportunity and take advantage of what it means for our County.

Quite familiar with representing coastal communities in the past, Rooney, who grew up in Palm Beach County, represented 15 counties during his congressional tenure.

Remarkable accomplishments last year included securing $7.5 million in funding to fight citrus greening disease in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Bill, a cause he championed for the citrus industry since he was elected in 2008. Rooney is the sole Florida member on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Additionally, the Army veteran introduced two bipartisan bills in 2015 to protect veterans from fraud, identity theft and other criminal activity by increasing penalties against financial predators and other criminals who target veterans. We have a large population of veterans who live here and can be affected directly by these bills.

Together with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, this duo represents a powerful allegiance for our region. Buchanan has been a proven leader on national security, jobs and the economy, and we have grown accustomed to frequent town hall meetings, continued communication and honest feedback from his team. We look forward to what Congressman Rooney’s input and vision can promise for the future and know that together these two leaders make a formidable team.

We thank him for making his first Congressional visit to Sarasota at The Argus Foundation Annual Meeting and look forward to his continued representation in the future for a County that will no doubt continue to top the charts.

Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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