School Measure Passes in Sarasota and Manatee

Politics

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAR 21, 2018

School leaders in both Sarasota and Manatee counties celebrated the passage of tax referenda. In Sarasota County, a special 1-mill tax got renewed with broad support. And a new tax in Manatee County passed more narrowly.

The Sarasota tax passed with ease, as about 49,000 voters came out in favor of the referendum and less than 14,000 voted against the measure, according to unofficial final results. With 78.58 percent of voters supporting the measure, that makes a record mandate for the school tax. “Every four years, we build more institutional support,” says Dan DeLeo, president of Citizens for Better Schools, the political committee campaigning for the Sarasota tax. “We have slowly over time, through argument and reason and public attention, caused those opposed to [the tax] to either switch to being for it or to be too ashamed to use their public voice to oppose it.”

In Manatee County, where voters weighed in on implementing a tax for the first time, a referendum passed more narrowly. Nearly 29,000 voters came out in favor of the tax, while more than 27,000 came out opposed to it. The measure passed with 51.38 percent according to unofficial final results. 

"Now it's up to the School Board and district to demonstrate we can make the best use of these dollars and make a return on the investment to the taxpayers," says Scott Hopes, Manatee County School Board chairman. "We have to deliver."

In other election news, Longboat Key voters came out for a town election and returned two incumbents to the Town Commission. Commissioner Irwin Pastor won in his at-large district, beating opponent Jack Wilson. District 5 Commissioner Ed Zunz won over challenger Randy Langley. Ken Schneier will also join the commission after winning the District 3 election over opponent John Weber.

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