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SRQ DAILY Sep 22, 2018

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"Our local democracy suffers when roughly 80 percent of voters either do not or cannot participate."

- Larry Eger, 12th Circuit Public Defender

[Politics]  District 72 Remains Region's Hottest House Race
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

An unexpected contest and surprising upset this year turned state House District 72 into the center of the political world in February. This November, voters weigh in again, and while the race this time will be one of many in the region, it remains one of the marquis battles in the region.

Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good faces former Republican state Rep. Ray Pilon in the Sarasota showdown. Will a still blue political climate carry Good into her first full term? Voters decide on Nov. 6, but a Where The Votes Are analysis found data points either side can read as good news.

In the Aug. 28 primary, when Pilon officially won the Republican nomination, almost an identical number of voters in District 72 came to the polls as did earlier this year. A total 123,951 voted in August. About 122,305 voted in the Feb. 13 special.

The nature of the races differed tremendously, of course. The 72 contest served as the only item on the February ballot. Astoundingly, that still drew 33.5-percent turnout, the second highest voter performance in modern Florida history for a special election. Good won the contest with 52.2 percent of the vote over Republican James Buchanan’s 44.8 percent, of 44,236 votes cast.

The August primary put the Republican contest in 72 below primaries for governor and ahead of school board races. While all voters could weigh in nonpartisan school and judge contests, only Republicans could help decide whether Pilon or Jason Miller advanced to November. Pilon took 64.4 percent, 11,645 votes, to Miller’s 37.7 percent, 6,451 votes.

Interestingly, the primary election attracted more voters to polls in August (17,724 voted) than the special (17,474). Good, uncontested in Democratic primary this time, can’t take credit for that. More likely, a governor primary attracted voters. That’s still good for Good, who knows the Democratic base remains engaged six months after her win. Good’s endorsed choice for governor, Gwen Graham, won the district by about 3,500 votes over Andrew Gillum (less good news for Good, Gillum won statewide).

Meanwhile, fewer Republicans voted in August (19,772) than February (20,177). But the party still holds a solid registration edge. Nearly 11,000 more Republicans than Democrats populated the district as of book closing for the primary election. If the governor race between Gillum and GOP nominee Ron DeSantis remains hot, this still looks like Republican country, especially considering the different dynamics of a general election.

Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner expects turnout here to exceed the 58.9 percent turnout from the last mid-term. If that high turnout means more party-line voters, Pilon could put the seat back in the red column. Then again, this district saw higher Democratic turnout than any state House district on the Gulf Coast. Republican turnout was nearly the lowest.

The real game will be winning over independents. In February, more than 6,100 no-party-affiliation voters came out to polls. Good surely took the bulk of them to win an election where 2,700 more Republicans voted than Democrats. But the engagement of independents remains in doubt as of now. They made up 14 percent of the electorate in February but only 9 percent in August, and that was with close school board races reaching voters countywide. Good needs independents to come out—and to support her—to make up the mathematical advantage Republicans enjoy here.

The best thing going for either candidate is they’ve won elections here before. Pilon did so twice, in November 2012 and 2014, and in 2010 he beat a Democratic incumbent in a more Democratic-leaning configuration. But Good won recently, and remains fresh on the mind of the near 20,000 who supported her just this year.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

Graphic by SRQ political guru Jacob Ogles shows registration and turnout demographics in two District 72 elections.

[Higher Education]  Adding to the Culture of our Community
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Arts and culture are a hallmark of the Manatee-Sarasota region. Our residents can view, hear and participate in the fine and performing arts at venues and events across our region throughout the year. State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, is proud to contribute to the culture of our region with the area’s only higher education fine and performing arts program. Our students provide performances on campus throughout the fall and spring terms and participate in community groups throughout our region.

The fourth priority of SCF’s 2015-2020 Boldly Engaging Strategic Plan is to “establish SCF’s central role in the educational, cultural and workforce development of our service region.” To be central to the cultural development of our area, we provide opportunities for students to perform and events that allow the community to come together to appreciate music, theater and art. This is one of benefits that a college provides its service area—the space and time to gather safely and appreciate the talents of community members. The recently renovated SCF Neel Performing Arts Center provides one of the largest venues in our region and the Howard Studio Theater creates an intimate setting for theater productions.

The fine and performing arts programs at SCF provide an additional benefit—student engagement. We know that students who are involved in campus activities are more likely to attend classes and graduate. Performing and improving their talents creates a strong connection to the College and motivates them to succeed in their chosen academic pathway. More than 125 students are participating in the music programs on our Bradenton Campus this fall. Graduates from SCF lead the music programs at 12 area schools, deepening the connection between College and community.

SCF’s music, theater and art programs also create an important tie to the strong philanthropic community that loves to support the arts in our region. Our wonderful donors support the students who perform in the Presidential String Quartet and Jazz Quintet and as choir vocal section leaders via scholarship and mentorship through the SCF Music Excellence Sponsorship Program. Their support means these students can attend SCF, pursue their degree, and perform around the community as ambassadors for our College. This program has covered the tuition and expenses of 29 students in its three years.

Creating connections between our College’s performers and our donors and community members requires the right facilities to nurture the talent. The SCF Foundation has raised about half of the $3.5 million required to build the Studio for the Performing Arts, an extension of the Neel Performing Arts Center that will provide appropriate practice, instructional and recital space for SCF’s programs. If you would like more information about this project please go to www.scf-foundation.org.

From October to April, our students and faculty will be providing high-quality, low-cost entertainment through nine music ensembles and other entertainment groups. We are proud to host the Bradenton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by SCF’s Dr. Robyn Bell, in the Neel, including its first performance on Oct. 11. For those who love musical theater, our fall musical is Oklahoma! Oct. 26-28. A full listing of all performances can be found at www.scf.edu/campuslife/NeelPerformingArtsCenter.

Performing arts have the power to bring people together. We take pride in our ability to add to the rich culture of Manatee and Sarasota Counties. This is just one of the many ways we are Boldly Engaging our community at SCF. I invite you to join us this fall for some of the best performances in the region and to enjoy the talents of our amazing SCF students.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[On City Politics]  Current Election Schedule Fails Sarasota's Electorate
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

I read with disappointment the letter that appeared in Monday’s edition of SRQ Daily regarding the proposal to move City election dates.

As the Public Defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit, my professional calling requires I avoid supposition, half-truths and fear mongering, which was the basis of the writer’s argument.

There is absolutely nothing that would support her argument that PAC money would flow into City races should such a change occur. We hear no issues of such problems in North Port or Venice when their city races are held in August and November of even-numbered years. In fact, nothing about the proposed change would do anything to affect campaign finance laws. What can be donated today can be donated under the more electorate-friendly proposal being put forward. There is simply zero substance to this argument.

A second argument proposed by the writer was that moving the date would diminish civic engagement. In the most recent primary election, held just last month, there were 11,641 ballots cast by city voters. In the 2017 spring, city elections, there were only 8,540 ballots cast by city voters. By my math, that means that the August election had a 36-percent increase in civic engagement. Perhaps the author and I have a different definition of what constitutes something being diminished. Perhaps we can await November turnout figures to see where engagement is truly occurring.

Finally, the author tags on the lazy argument that the proposal must be bad because of its supporters. She relies on pointing to the support of business, membership organizations to make the case. Conveniently omitted from the list of supporters were organizations like the NAACP, the International Union of Police Associations and both the ACLU of Sarasota and the ACLU of Florida. Similarly missing was mention of a number of well-respected community leaders who are supporting the cause, like former Mayor Suzanne Atwell who serves alongside me as co-chair.

Simply put, we seek to increase participation amongst the City’s electorate. On average, 8 out of 10 voters aren’t participating in city elections—it’s unbelievable! Our local democracy suffers when roughly 80 percent of voters either do not or cannot participate. Compare that with the more than 70 percent of city voters who participated in the most recent presidential election and you can see just how big of a problem we have. Moreover, a move to general election cycles would save taxpayers nearly $100,000 per election.

The system currently in place in the City of Sarasota is failing the electorate and the taxpayer. I’ve no idea why the author presents these baseless arguments as a fair tradeoff to continue supporting that system. Vote YES to Change the Date Sarasota. Make your voice heard to make your voice heard.

Larry Eger is Public Defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit and co-chair of Change the Date Sarasota. 

[SCOOP]  Chatty Watches

Listen to your watch...it knows what it's talking about. Designed for people with low vision, talking watches announce the time of day at the push of a button and some  even set themselves to the National Atomic Clock using radio waves. These chatty wrist clocks are available sleek styles for men and women, chrome or gold in color, with leather or metal bands.  Visit the PEEPERS Low Vision Store at Lighthouse of Manasota, 7318 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota  from 9am to 4pm Monday through Friday to see, and hear, the assortment of timepieces. PEEPERS supports the mission of Lighthouse of Manasota.


Peepers Low Vision Store at Lighthouse of Manasota

[KUDOS:]  Local Nurses Receive DAISY Award

Recently a young woman with a history of substance abuse was admitted to the intensive care unit at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota where Bree Duckwall, RN and Christine Eckles, RN both cared for the young woman and her family with such respect and kindness and compassion they have been honored for with the DAISY Award.  This international award recognizes extraordinary nurses who provide exceptional care. Patients, families, and colleagues may nominate nurses and a committee at Doctors Hospital chooses the recipients. The woman’s mother said they were so thankful for the compassion they received from these nurses. Unfortunately, the young woman did not survive but both nurses continued to support to her family, even attending the young woman’s funeral during their off time. During a special ceremony in the ICU fellow nurses and family members gathered to present Duckwall and Eckles with their DAISY Awards and thank them for their dedication and empathy to patients. “The lengths that Bree and Christine went to, to show this family that their daughter mattered and she was cared for will stay with them forever,” said Stormy Dulovich, ICU Director.


Doctors Hospital of Sarasota

[SCOOP]  Go Behind The Curtain At The Sarasota Ballet

The Sarasota Ballet's Inside The Studio series provides audience members the rare and intimate opportunity to step behind the curtain of The Sarasota Ballet with demonstrations and coaching from repetiteurs, choreographers, and directors. Each Inside The Studio reveals the inner workings of ballets that will be performed throughout the Season. The four events take place in the Company’s Studio 1 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and will feature the rehearsal process behind George Balanchine’s Diamonds, Ricardo Graziano’s World Premiere, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Apparitions, and Sir Peter Wright’s production of Giselle. 

Sarasota Ballet Inside The Studio Series.

[SCOOP]  #TakeYourTervis Pledge

Tervis is giving away 10,000 exclusive reusable tumblers on September 27th. The company has been making sustainable drinkware products with a lifetime guarantee since 1946 and is committed to making a positive impact on our oceans and environment by reducing waste. Sign the #TakeYourTervis pledge on September 27th online at Tervis.com or locally at Tervis locations on St. Armand’s Circle and in Osprey to stop using disposable cups and receive one free tumbler while supplies last. 


[SCOOP]  Passport to The Bazaar

Celebrate the opening of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime and enjoy a variety of live music, complimentary drinks and food, amazing shopping, and a chance to win a Sarasota Staycation valued at over $1,000.  Vendors include local artisans, collectibles, baked goods, gifts, jewelry, and so much more. Get your “passport” stamped by 12 of the 25 creators and be entered to win. No purchase necessary. Package includes 2 night stay at Hotel Ranola, passes to Mote Marine, Ringling Museum, Selby Gardens, meals from Michaels on East, Gecko’s, Mattison’s 41, bowling at Evie’s on Main street, golf at University Park Country Club, one month unlimited car washes from Tommy’s Express Car Wash, and more. 

Bazaar On Apricot and Lime


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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