Democrat Norman Challenges Gruters for Senate

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY MAY 11, 2020

Marketing professional Katherine Norman became the first Democrat to throw her hat in the ring to challenge Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, in Senate District 23.Running on a message of transparency and environmental action, she hopes before November to boost the level of public engagement voters have with elected officials.

“I want to share information before bad decisions are made so we are not all suffering the bad repercussions of government,” she said. “For too long, we have been responding to poor decision-making.”

Norman grew up in Sarasota before attending college at New York University. After time in New York City and later Orlando, she moved back to Sarasota about seven years ago and is raising two sons here. The 30-year-old is running for office for the first time, but has been active in the Sarasota County Democratic Environmental Caucus.

Gruters, for his part, took some umbrage at a challenge built on the environment, noting funding he secured for a Red Tide Institute working out of Mote Marine Laboratory and a bill he carried this year increasing fines on sewage spills. “As a fourth-generation Sarasotan, I place an extremely high value on the environment and water quality and I will continue to fight for water issues,” he said. “I welcome Emily Norman into the race and I take her very seriously but I hope she comes in a distant second.”

Norman said she’s looking forward to engaging with Gruters on environmental issues at forums and debates through the district. For her part, she sees environmental causes reaching past the shoreline. “Ultimately, he [Gruters] could be doing more,” she said. “I think water is an obvious choice, but the environment also goes to plastic use and our native plants. It’s about phosphate mining and agriculture and over-fertilization. It goes to the individual and the company level and making sure we are all on the same page— based on scientific facts.

“We just have to look at our outcomes now. And we have to ask, do we want to have a habitable earth?”

In addition to Gruters and Norman, Robert Kaplan has filed for the Senate seat as an independent.

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