Rob Grant: Don't Reduce Voice Of The People

Letters

District 3 in the City of Sarasota comprises diverse neighborhoods stretching from Arlington Park on the south to Bobby Jones Golf Club on the north with unique challenges requiring thoughtful and committed leadership. Unfortunately, in talking with residents, there are feelings that we are a totally ignored district, deadened with complacency and should leave well enough alone. My goal as City Commissioner is to restore the power vested in the people through the City Charter and other guiding documents such as the Comprehensive Plan.

Sarasota is at an inflection point, and with recent events in our country I am concerned that the voice of those already underserved will be lost and silenced. While District 3 is primarily working-class families and retirees on fixed incomes, our proximity to downtown is enticing to developers and speculators with plans that will cost us our character and affordability. Much of the vacant land that is available for development in the City is in District 3, and I will make sure the voice of the people is heard as decisions are made about future growth, as these decisions affect everything from housing costs, job opportunities, transportation and traffic.

With so much in Sarasota out of the financial reach of many residents, we very much need a District 3 commissioner who will keep us from being priced and built out of our neighborhoods. We need a planning and development process that includes public input so residents can take ownership of their built environment. That process should include a plan to create meaningful affordable housing, starting with a clear definition of the meaning of affordable. Reforming a dysfunctional development process will lead to the predictability wanted by businesses, residents and arts and cultural organizations.

A unified City Commission able to work together and collaborate on these complex issues will be vital to the future of Sarasota. Policy decisions and directives to the city administration need to be clear, concise and include provisions for measuring success. Most importantly, the City Commission will be responsible for protecting the inclusive culture nurtured throughout Sarasota’s history. One tenet central to that culture is responsible behavior made up of five essential elements: honesty, respect, fairness, courage and accountability. With a strong City Commission there is no need for a strong Mayor.

As I see it, moving to a strong Mayor, versus the current Commission-Manager structure, would dramatically reduce the voice of the people. Now, each voter has three votes in decisions: the two at large Commissioners and the Commissioner representing their district. The power is vested in the people to make decisions via their representatives, more of a bottom up approach.

With a strong Mayor, decisions by the Commissioners could be vetoed by one person. That concerns me given the way we have seen how the top down type of government has worked at other levels. By that, I mean that elections for a strong Mayor could bring partisan politics to City Hall, and that is contrary to the culture of Sarasota.

Rob Grant is a candidate for Sarasota City Commission, District 3.

« View The Saturday Aug 15, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

The Most Un-American President

The Most Un-American President

Rep. Greg Steube | Aug 28, 2021

Leaders Must Acknowledge Climate Change

Leaders Must Acknowledge Climate Change

Jul 24, 2021

Surge in Luxury Market Demand

Surge in Luxury Market Demand

Michael Moulton | Jul 17, 2021

Intense Buyer Competition Speeds Sales

Intense Buyer Competition Speeds Sales

Michael Moulton | Jun 19, 2021