Vote For Progress

Guest Correspondence


Progress: a forward or onward movement or gradual betterment.

We should keep that word in mind when voting in the Sarasota City Commission race on May 9. With three vying for two at-large seats, I encourage you to get out there and vote because it does and will make a difference. Make sure your voice is heard.

Let me tell you a story on progress. When I moved here in 1979, I was searching for a place to shop for women’s clothing. A friend suggested I go to a freestanding department-type store. Unfortunately, everything had an elastic waist—not exactly my style. Another person recommended I try the Maas Brothers in downtown Sarasota, which was similar to a Macy’s back then. To me, this store represented civilization at least slightly similar to what I was used to in New York City. I was told to go straight in the store and get right back in my car because it wasn’t safe to walk down Main Street. I tell you this tale simply to illustrate that so many changes have taken place in the city since then. Now, locals and tourists alike can freely walk down Main Street with no fear.

During this runoff election, we get to choose who will most effectively represent the entire city. Each candidate stands for something, and I encourage you to read about the issues each contender plans to support. This is a chance to work together on solutions that benefit our city and its residents. Issues like homelessness should be addressed to help alleviate the problem and not exacerbate it. Making Sarasota a sanctuary city is not in the best interest for local businesses and city residents! And yet, it is on one candidate’s campaign agenda. There has never been a more vital time to get involved.

You must be a resident of the city to vote in the upcoming election, and while not everyone is fortunate enough to live in the city limits, please remember that a lot of people’s livelihoods depend on that urban city core.

Sarasota offers a quality of life that so many people enjoy. These vibrant businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and boutiques, are the reason people move to the area. These businesses help support that lifestyle and boost our economy year-round.

There were two past projects that people fought furiously against—The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the John Ringling bridge. They resisted this change for fear that it would impact the character of the city. The bridge is iconic and affords connectivity and walkability between downtown and St. Armand’s Circle. There’s never a time you will drive over that bridge and not see someone walking or running on it, not to mention the spectacular views from the top. Now, we can’t image downtown Sarasota without those two projects.

Our city has only gotten better and better. Vote for your beliefs but also vote for the candidates who are forward-thinking, who embrace progress but understand that change is inevitable. Sarasota is doing well, and it’s a city we should be proud of. Let’s make informed choices and not turn back the clock.

Mary Dougherty-Slapp is exeuctive director of Gulf Coast Builders Exchange.


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