Cutsinger, Hanks Bring Public Service to County Race

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 3, 2020

The first Sarasota County Commission district election in decades will choose a new commissioner in South County. North Port Commissioner Christopher Hanks and former Sarasota County Planning Commission Ron Cutsinger face each other in a District 5 Republican primary for the open seat.

For Hanks, the district election offers a chance to have a county commissioner whose first loyalties will be to Englewood, North Port and South Venice voters. “People have felt under-represented for a long time,” he said. “Promises made usually don’t pan out the way they are given.” He points to recent plans on the Legacy Trail that leave out south county improvements in the first phase as an example.

But that’s on top of years of low prioritization for south county roadways, parks and any number of other improvements. There’s an Englewood fire station he said can’t get its roof fixed.

Cutsinger said he knows many of the hopes south county voters hold, having lived in the region for the past 50 years. “I know the community and am profoundly invested in it,” he said. In addition to his service on the county planning commission, where he just left a chairmanship in order to seek the county commission post, he’s worked for years on nonprofit boards and for business organizations.

Through that time, he’s seen a need for greater accountability and transparency when it comes to the spending of taxpayer dollars.

For his part Cutsinger said his work on issues from the county comprehensive plan to affordable housing initiatives will allow him to hit the ground running. Many of the projects he worked on like the Legacy Trail extension referendum and a modernization of zoning and land development codes are just starting to be implemented.

“My personal background is as a financial advisor, which right now is terrific,” Cutsinger said. “As we are dealing with the pandemic, we have to know how we deal with budget issues and priorities. That's something I live with every day.”

Hanks, though, said nothing prepares a county commissioner for elected experience like other elected experience. From his time as a North Port Commissioner and Mayor, he said he understands how to draw from the input and experience from voters, and he’s developed relationships with leaders in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

“It’s important to have that understanding and experience, and to know how to make hard decisions,” he said.

 

Photos: Ron Cutsinger, Chris Hanks.

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