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SRQ DAILY Aug 25, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The schools are being hardened on the outside for safety, but hopefully, softened on the inside to teach cooperation, self control and empathy."

- Nancy Taylor

[Under The Hood]  Sarasota Democrats' Surprise Showing
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

There’s been an odd thing happening in Sarasota County during the lead-up to an Aug. 28 primary, something that may just portend to a more competitive general election this year. The Democrats have shown an ability to organize.

Now, no one should get too excited. The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections reports that as of Friday morning, registered Republicans county-wide outnumber Democrats 133,772 to 96,293. But when it comes to mail-in ballots for the upcoming primary, Democrats have shown greater enthusiasm. The Division of Elections reports 18,004, compared to 16,663 Republicans.

What makes this especially strange is that Democrats statewide have disappointed. In the midst of a supposed #BlueWave, more than 508,000 Republicans so far mailed in ballots compared to 444,492 Democrats. Excuses abound. Maybe there’s indecision about the five-way Democratic primary for governor. Democrats prefer voting in person to voting by mail. But then GOP voters are actually outperforming Dems in early voting as well by about 8,000 votes statewide.

In Sarasota, Republicans have done better in early voting as well, with 5,252 casting votes that way compared to 3,550 Democrats.  That means the GOP still holds an edge, but only a by a scant 361 votes. That could change today if mail-in votes continue to come in faster than early votes.

Why have things been so close? For sure, some credit should go to JoAnne DeVries, a local party chair who in her short tenure helped organize Rep. Margaret Good’s shock win in a special election for state House in February, and who also helped Democrats keep unanimous control of the Sarasota City Commission.

But to explain this year’s enthusiasm you would expect some key vote inspirers on the ballot.

Statewide, Democrats and Republicans have the same number of competitive primaries, albeit Democrats may have a harder time choosing between five major candidates while Republicans face a binary choice.

Locally, there’s a county commission primary between New College grad Wesley Beggs and beach access activist Mike Cosentino. But honestly I’ve heard more interest in the Republican rematch between incumbent Commissioner Alan Maio and Siesta Key activist Lourdes Ramirez. We’ll see Tuesday which race gets more votes.

Democrats in the north County, a Democratic bastion, will choose a nominee to run against Rep. Vern Buchanan. But well-funded candidate David Shapiro has all but ignored his primary opponent, Jan Schneider. Certainly, the South County battle for an open Congressional seat, where the Republican primary pits prominent lawmakers Greg Steube and Julio Gonzalez, seems more consequential.

The biggest place where high Democratic turnout can be explained is in local School Board contests. In two of these races, party leaders on both sides made their preferences known. If incumbent Shirley Brown fends off a challenge from Karen Rose, or more unexpectedly challenger Nick Guy unseats incumbent Bridget Ziegler, it could be the biggest reward so far for Democrats posting good numbers.

But more important than winning any particular contest, high turnout in August could portend the same in November, when partisan stakes grow much higher. It’s certainly curious that as Democrats scratch their head confused about turnout statewide that Sarasota Democrats have stood out, matching the GOP nearly vote-for-vote. That will matter for whichever Democrat wins the nominee for governor, and it will be important to Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election hopes. Even if Democrats fail to take any unexpected local office away from Republicans this year, it’s possible state party leaders will still pay more heed to what’s going on in this increasingly purple part of the state.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Letting Go at Ringling
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

We have had the great pleasure at Ringling College of Art and Design this past week of welcoming the largest incoming freshman class in the history of our institution.

That’s right, over 500 new young people, representing 42 different states and 30 diverse countries, arrived in Sarasota to spend the next four years pursuing their artistic dreams at one of the world’s premiere art and design colleges.

So the campus has been bustling with fresh energy these past few days. Folks from all over the world have trekked everything from stuffed animals to mini-fridges to artwork into our residence halls (the modern word for dorms). And while you’ve often heard me talk about our amazing students, I’d like to take a moment here to recognize the often forgotten parents and other family members who helped guide these students to this crucial jumping off point in their lives.

The community of parents at Ringling College is like no other. I love them. Think about it, they are the ultimate cheerleaders of creativity and the creative leaders of tomorrow. Somehow, their faith in the vision of the youth they have nurtured has led them here to us. Instead of forcing their child to study other, more popular, disciplines like science, technology, engineering and math, or requiring their child go to a large comprehensive university, this special group has accepted the dreams of their children to study art and design at an art and design college. They were willing to put their faith in us to educate their beloved child so he/she/they can pursue their passion and see them thrive in their creative careers.

So, I have to stop and think about what these parents must be experiencing as they deliver not only the furniture and electronics on move-in day, but as they prepare to leave their loved one here on campus in our care. What emotions are they feeling when they drive or fly away from this experience, and from a lifetime of experiences with their children? This is a big moment.

What I can say for sure is that it is a true rollercoaster—emotional ups and downs, and all around. It is a big moment, but it certainly isn’t an easy one. As a father of three children, I am completely empathetic. I can see not only the pride in their eyes for the journey their student is embarking upon, but also the sheer terror of the unknown. I tell these new students, if you think you are scared, you should see your parents.

As president, it’s my role to reassure them—to let them know again and again that they’ve made the right choice. And I know they have, because I trust our dedicated staff and faculty to do everything they can to take care of our now nearly 1,600 students. In addition to our stellar academic program, the Student Life programs, under the energized leadership of Dr. Tammy Walsh, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, are unlike any other art and design school in the world. At Ringling, we pride ourselves on educating the “whole” student with a series of activities that help develop and shape leadership and the “soft skills” needed for each student to be fully prepared for the “real world” when they graduate.

I applaud this group of brave souls who will give their final hugs, shed their tears, and walk away this weekend in order to allow their student room to grow, to learn, to flourish, to dream, and to discover who they are. Bravo, I say. And I also thank these parents for being willing to take the risk and trust us to foster the brightest future possible for each and every one of our new students. Yep, we’ve got this.

Ringling Family strong!

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design. 

Photo by Rich Schineller

[On Politics]  Delp: Rose Will Provide Expert Schools Leadership
Wilma Hamilton Delp

While I have great respect for all those who choose to run for the School Board, I am endorsing Karen Rose for the District 4 seat. I have known Karen for almost 30 years and I value her laser–like focus on student achievement and the overall wellbeing of children.

I have decided to support her because I know she will forcefully address the school safety issues facing Sarasota County—and every other school system in the nation. While having resource officers in every school is a valued first step, I believe that addressing the underlying issues that result in school violence is essential. Her background in working with students and families in crisis, students with emotional problems, bullying issues, etc. make her an ideal candidate to guide and lead in this critical area.

I know Karen will insist on the development of effective programs to identify, report and address these safety issues. Further, I trust she will support the need for additional counselors, social workers and psychologists to deal specifically with these exigent mental health issues.

School safety concerns are not going to magically disappear. It will take proactive measures and expert leadership to direct this ongoing effort. I believe Karen Rose will be tenacious in addressing today’s most critical school issue.

Wilma Hamilton Delp is a former superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. 

[On Education]  Charter Schools Often Provide Model Education
Nancy Taylor

Sorry that Ms. Antunes does not do a full investigation into the larger subject of "charter schools." Yes, they do receive State money outside of District. However, the District oversees them and charges them for services, like connections to IT for grades, attendance and registration.

My children attended a local "non-corporate" charter, Sarasota Suncoast Academy. They were in the first kindergarten classes. There were 90 students 15 years ago, now over 700. The behavior modification and training they received at SSA made them the kind of adults I wish we all could be. 

The School District is currently trying to figure out how to get the exact same behavior training to District teachers. Finally realizing that behavior training affects graduation rates and even the horrors of recent school shootings. The schools are being hardened on the outside for safety, but hopefully, softened on the inside to teach cooperation, self control and empathy.

True that not all Charter schools are great, but lumping them into the same basket is not accurate. It's a great public disservice to do so.

Nancy Taylor is a parent and substitute teacher at Sarasota Suncoast Academy. 

[Tomorrow]  Save Our Shores Long Table Dinner

Join The Chiles Group, Gecko’s Hospitality Group, Anna Maria Oyster Bar Group, Gold Coast Eagle and Republic National Distributing on Sunday, August 26th for the Save Our Shores Long Table Dinner to show support for the valuable work of the world class Mote Marine Laboratory researchers and biologists and Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START).  Save Our Shores was born from a grassroots effort by local hospitality partners who match their philanthropic and culinary efforts to benefit the community. Don't miss this unforgettable casual 5-course all inclusive dinner. Proceeds to benefit Mote and START.  

Save Our Shores Long Table Dinner

[SCOOP ]  SNAC Scholarship Recipients

The Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) awarded 22 scholarships totaling $74,000 to strengthen the region¹s nursing workforce and boost the number of nursing school instructors training students on the Suncoast. The scholarships are part of a grassroots plan to develop a robust pipeline of well-educated nurses to replace a wave of retiring nurses and ensure continued access to safe, high quality care on the Suncoast. Many of the recipients gathered on August 15, to meet donors who made the funding possible and share personal stories about how the funding is helping them achieve their dreams of a nursing career. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare

[KUDOS ]  SMA Students Receive National Recognition in Athletic Shooting Competitions

Mary Tucker and Kinga Aletto, Sarasota Military Academy cadets from the graduating class of 2018, have recently earned recognition for their talents in national shooting competitions, including the 2018 ELEY high school All-American team and the 2018 American Legion National Championships competition. SMA senior Mary Tucker earned a spot on both the 2018 ELEY high school All-American smallbore team and the 2018 ELEY high school All-American air rifle team, marking her as the first and only All-American in any sport in Sarasota Military Academy history. ELEY, a leading British engineering company, hosted the top junior shooters in the US at the USA Shooting National Championships in June. Kinga Aletto, a senior at SMA, was only one of 15 in the country to receive a spot at the 2018 American Legion National Championships in Colorado at the Olympic Training Center held in July. During the competition, she finished third overall in standing and seventh in the country. Aletto is the first SMA cadet to compete at this level and the first to receive a rifle scholarship to compete at the University of Nebraska where she will attend college.  

Sarasota Military Academy

[SCOOP]  Set the Bar

Join the Sarasota-Manatee Originals and the Child Protection Center for the 2nd Annual Set the Bar Cocktail Competition featuring 10 local bartenders from Original member restaurants who will compete for the exclusive title of Top Bartender on the Bay on October 4. There will be tasting opportunities for all, as guests will sample each signature cocktail entered into the competition. You'll cast your vote alongside our Celebrity Judges to determine the top 3 bartenders for People's Choice and Judge's Choice cocktail winner, earning our bartenders bragging rights and special recognition. Originals member restaurants will serve lite bites as live entertainment fills the Aloft Hotel Sarasota Courtyard. This year, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals have partnered with Whiskey Obsession Festival and Men, Whiskey & Watches to bring you an even stiffer competition that benefits The Child Protection Center.  

Child Protection Center

[KUDOS ]  Team Member from Goodwill's Veterans' Program Honored

Chris Landis, an advisor with Goodwill Manasota's Veterans Services Program, was recently honored with the "Hero of the Month" award by Homes for Heroes. Janine Morris, an affiliate realtor with Homes for Heroes, visited with the Veterans Services Program team and presented Landis with his award, recognizing his extraordinary service on behalf of veterans. A colleague nominated Landis for the honor. Homes for Heroes, Inc. is the largest nationwide network of affiliate real estate, mortgage, and local business specialists committed to providing easy ways for heroes - military, firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and teachers - to save on a home. Landis, who has worked with Goodwill since 2017, joined the Army National Guard after graduating from high school. After his military retirement, he received his degree from the University of South Florida and his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He then worked with Veterans Treatment Court, helping veterans navigate the criminal justice system, get connected with social services, and get back on their feet.  Launched in 2013, Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program was created to help eliminate barriers to employment, provide opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, and connect veterans with needed social services.   

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Back to School Backpacks

Helping families in need get their children ready for school, JFCS of the Suncoast, in partnership with Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG) and the newly formed BeyondMe philanthropic initiative, joined forces at Boys & Girls Club to fill more than 1,500 backpacks with school supplies. The backpack supplies, ranging from pens and pencils to erasers, notebooks, sharpeners, safety scissors, tissues, protractors and rulers, scientific calculators and glue sticks, were sponsored through financial and in-kind donations from Dean and Patty Miller, as well as Tiny Hands Foundation and Hope 4 Communities. The backpacks were distributed to kindergarten through middle school children from Title I schools as well as local churches and social service organization programs in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, including JFCS’ Building Strong Families, Healthy Children Healthy Families, Healthy Children Healthy Fathers, Operation Military Assistance, Children’s Crisis, Counseling, STARS and Camp Mariposa programs.   

JFCS of the Suncoast

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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