Sandstrom Wants 21st Century Solutions



Editor's Note: This is the seventh in an eight-part weekly series profiling candidates for Sarasota City Commission.  

If he gets elected to the Sarasota City Commission, one thing Mikael Sandstrom doesn’t want to see is two-foot-tall piles of paper memos. He was surprised when he started visiting the City Commission offices how much gets communicated through printed packets of information, comparing the detailed meeting agendas to iconic pictures of the ObamaCare legislation. “We’re in the 21st century, but a lot of the technology and infrastructure is 20th century,” he says. “We need to be technology-forward. Instead of printing out packets of paper, I have to have everything digital. It’s a small thing, but it’s a step forward, and we need to reduce our impact anywhere and everywhere. You start somewhere.”

Sandstrom, one of eight candidates seeking two at-large seats on the commission, gets his political start with this race. The Sarasota-raised candidate, the 33-year-old studied master’s degree-level courses on political science in Sweden before returning home and making his first run for office this year. Attending forums as a candidate, he says he has learned a tremendous amount about the interconnectivity of government and which public matters go to state, county of city officials. That has emphasized to him the importance of having City Hall leaders get along with those in Sarasota County government and at state agencies.

Other environmentally minded priorities for Sandstrom include using solar power to fuel golf courses on the city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Course. But even more than green issues, Sandstrom’s campaign has been most focused on pedestrian safety issues. In pursuit of a more walkable community, he’d like to see more pedestrian overpasses on US 41, even speaking to several business owners about how it would impact commerce. At an Alta Vista forum this week, he heard plenty from citizens worried about how easy it was for walkers to get hit by cars in the neighborhood. He’s also upset the city has pushed events like Thunder By The Bay, which moved to Lakewood Ranch this year. “That had a $2.7-million economic impact,” he says. “If you want to elect a commissioner that embraces these events, you should vote for me.” He worries the city could push other major events out as well.

In the private sector, he serves as vice president of marketing and technology for Sweden Trade, a retail business his parents own on St. Armands Circle, and he previously worked as chief financial officer for Sarasota-based ZV Studios. Regardless of the outcome of this race, he hopes his involvement brings certain issues to the fore and also inspires younger candidates to run for office.

A citywide election is scheduled for March 14, with a runoff likely on May 9. Other candidates include: Tahiti Park neighborhood leader Jennifer Ahern-Koch; former Sarasota Mayor Fredd “Glossie” Atkins; former prosecutor Hagen Brody; incumbent City Commissioner Susan Chapman; Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association president Patrick Gannon; Gulf Business Systems owner Martin Hyde; and former stockbroker Matt Sperling.

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