Vote Yes to Change the Date Sarasota

Guest Correspondence

Change the Date Sarasota is an incredible gathering of residents, businesses, organizations and thought leaders across the political spectrum. It is an effort to increase voter participation in city commission elections and to save taxpayer money by changing the date of city elections to the fall.

It is not just overall voter participation that will double or triple, African American voter composition more than doubles, Hispanic voter composition almost triples, and voter composition of those under 29 years old almost triples in fall elections as well.

If that weren’t enough to change the date of city elections to fall of even-numbered years (to coincide with federal, state and county elections), it will also save the city about $100,000 per election cycle. Remember, the city commission just voted to raise taxes; imagine what the city could do with six figures of money every other year.

Opponents have come up with some creative and oppressive arguments to justify their position against this. 

It has been written by opponents that they are against changing the date of city elections because business groups have helped to fund the efforts to expand voter participation.  Business groups were not the only ones to fund it. The ACLU also substantially funded it, but that is creatively left out of the argument. 

Let’s follow the “we are against it because business groups are for it” logic for a moment. The business community has funded just about every 501(c)3 in town from children’s issues, to women’s issues, to education, to environment, to health. Should we expect that the opponents will now be against those efforts as well? 

How about the school board referendum? A review of those financials demonstrates that a substantial amount of the funding for that referendum came mostly from the business community and the organizations that are funding Change the Date Sarasota. So, are Change the Date Sarasota opponents now going to oppose the school board referendum too based on who funded it?

This logic is creatively ridiculous and intellectually dishonest.

Now, let’s review the oppressive arguments against moving the city election date. There was a recent forum discussion on Change the Date Sarasota and former City of Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamone spoke in opposition. Here are two of my favorite quotes:

“I don’t see that it is a critical issue to have a lot of people vote.”

“I do not believe that this is the end all, be all to have a better government is to have more people vote.” 

Both of these quotes were unapologetically said out loud and on video. The latter quote garnered an audible reaction of disbelief at the hubris displayed. Others were angry at such a casual disregard for representative democracy.

A vote is a voice in government. It is absolutely critical that everyone in society does everything it can to make that voice loud and representative of the community. 

Join us, and the Sarasota NAACP, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU, ACLU Florida, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, Manasota Democrat Black Caucus, the Realtor Association of Sarasota Manatee, the Young Democrats, the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, the International Union of Police Associations, the Sarasota Republican Party, and our newest endorsement, the Sarasota Police Officers Association Local 6045. 

Vote to Change the Date Sarasota. Vote Yes on the City of Sarasota Charter Amendment and be a part of a movement to increase voter turnout and make our elections more representative of the community. 

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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