Moran, Atkins Each Promise Better Listening



Both candidates seeking a Sarasota County Commission seat promise to listen more closely to community concerns from other players in the region, but definitely offer different takes on whose concerns have been thus far ignored. Republican Mike Moran, a Planning Board commissioner, says government needs to hear from leaders in development to solve a shortage in affordable housing, while Democrat Fredd Atkins, a former Sarasota mayor, pledges to hear out dialogue with local cities to improve inter-agency relations.

Atkins spent years on the municipal side of disagreements between city and county leadership. As the longest serving Sarasota City Commissioner ever when he left office six years ago, he believes communications have since worsened over disagreements such as the sunsetting of the Community Redevelopment Agency and solutions to homelessness. “They agree on a lot of things, but the major ones that pop out are those,” he says. “But we are going to help the constituency of the whole county if we can do things civilly and cooperate with municipalities without having to go back and forth suing each other.” Moran, though, says it will take someone outside politics to change the tone of conversation, and doubts Atkins record of success on that front. “It’s like any other relationship in life; it comes with trust and solid communication,” Moran says. “There was a lot of tension at the city when Mr. Atkins was there.”

Moran, as a development consult, has felt unheard in dealing with government bureaucracies that limit sensible practices for solving problems like affordable housing. “Government doesn’t create affordable housing. Developers of affordable housing do, and we need to speak to them about why they are not supplying a much-needed demand in our community,” he says. From his own conversations, he believes there must be relaxations of density restrictions in urban cores. Atkins, though, says he more often hears complaints about county commissioners listening to developers too much. “We need to encourage people to look at the reality of what we’ve gone through over the last 18 years, really the last 46 years of the Republican Party to determine which way Sarasota goes.” Atkins says voters upset about unfettered growth need their voices heard as well.

Atkins and Moran are running for the District 1 seat on the Sarasota County Commission. Voters county-wide may vote in the November 8 general election.

Pictured: Mike Moran, Fredd Atkins.

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