Sarasota City Manager On Most Important Election in Forty Years

Guest Correspondence

BY TOM BARWIN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY OCT 24, 2020

As a City Manager, I probably pay more attention to the Federal Government than most people because a local official’s ability to help communities flourish goes up or down based on the laws, policies and economic reality as controlled or influenced by the federal government.   At the local level, we see and experience what works well, and what is not working.  We, at the grassroots, usually have to pick up the pieces when aspects of our society aren't functioning as well as they could or should.   

At the Federal level, the President sets the aspirations and civic tone of our country.  I have managed cities under 7 presidents, and observed their strengths, weaknesses, priorities, and how unforeseen events they had to respond to, and even how their personalities, have impacted our communities. It is often subtle, yet very real.   

Most of the major candidates and Presidents I have worked under in our governmental arrangement have visited the cities I was managing.  Although City Managers are nonpolitical, because we work with whoever gets elected, I have often helped locals welcome candidates and presidents when they visited, and have been in the local banquet rooms or field houses to hear Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden here in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. 

Local police agencies also coordinate with the Secret Service to assure their safety.  I am only mentioning this because we are just over a week away from what many, myself included, believe is the most important election in the past 40 plus years.  The more people who vote, from all walks of life, the more confident we can all be that our country will be moving forward based on the collective wisdom and needs of the people and important national priorities.  That is how representative democracy works.   

COVID-19 may make voting a concern for some. But you should know that smart voting safety measures have been put in place. We have outstanding, dedicated people supervising our elections.Ron Turner in Sarasota County, and Mike Bennett in Manatee County, are experienced professionals who, with their staffs, will make sure your vote is counted and that voting can be done safely.

I want to especially urge employers to do whatever you can to flex time or schedules to help make it possible for your employees to vote, including early in-person voting, to help minimize lines. The greater the vote, the greater our potential. It is time to do what you can do for your country, our country. Vote. I look forward to seeing you at the polls. 

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. Email him at Thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov.   

Thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov

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