State Senate Forum Soon

From Kafi Benz


This year Sarasota is included in a senate district with new boundaries carved out to conform with new guidelines. The new boundaries shifted several times in proposals before being determined by the Supreme Court of the state.

On May 9, the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, will hold an early forum for the candidates campaigning for the District 23 seat among the state senators in Tallahassee. There is no incumbent running for the seat. The candidates who are vying for the seat are Frank Cirillo, Doug Holder, Rick Levine, Nora Patterson, Ray Pilon and Greg Steube. The election primary is in August.

Founded in 1961, CONA represents neighborhood, condominium, homeowner and other civic associations plus individual members, and is dedicated to working to protect neighborhood interests and keeping members informed about community concerns and public interests.

Unusual question formats and quick timing are the hallmark of CONA candidate forums as they make an effort to provide its members and the public with a more thorough understanding of the positions of each candidate than usually achieved at other candidate forums.

Aiming to show candidate positions on as many topics as possible instead of allowing candidates an opportunity to reiterate well-rehearsed platform statements about a few anticipated topics, CONA first reveals the positions of the candidates on as many topics as possible, asking for nuances only to probe differences in positions of great interest to members.

CONA forums are followed by a lively Q&A session where questions from its members are peppered with ones submitted by other audience members during the meeting, which is free and open to the public.

The meeting will be held on at 7pm on Mondayat the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, at the northwestern corner of its intersection with Tamiami Trail, just south of the Municipal Auditorium. Parking and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way. More details are available at

Preceding the 7pm meeting is a social gathering that begins at 6:30pm during which the candidates mix with guests, gather signatures to qualify, distribute literature and signs and give interviews to media. Video of the meeting will be posted to the CONA web site and archived.

Kafi Benz is president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations.

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