Rich Promises Ethical Approach on Sarasota Commission

Todays News

Health care consultant Sheldon Rich sat before in City Hall speaking to the Sarasota City Commission. But he doesn’t feel members were always listening.

“Everything felt pre-ordained,” he said. “A few things really could have gone another direction if ears had been opened.”

Now Rich wants to provide that set of ears. He is one of six candidates running for two at-large seats on the Commission. He serves now as vice chairman of the Police Complaint Committee, but wants a greater role in broader decisions affecting the community he has lived in more than four years.

He points to a comprehensive plan update that could significantly increase the number of land-use decisions that will be decided through administrative review as one of the decisions that could have gone differently had he held a vote on the commission. He’s also upset at a number of “giveaways” offered up in a recent push for affordable housing that he believes will only help developers without providing any more affordable or attainable housing within the city limits.

On the spending side, Rich also said he does not support the city constructing a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center. He knows many would like a new venue but it makes no financial sense at the moment, Rich said.

“There has been no discussion how we could possibly pay for that,” he said. “It would be one of the single largest expenditures that ever happened in city history.” Rather, Rich feels the city should seek a historic designation for the existing Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and invest in fortifying the facility to deal with coastal threats. While expensive, it would be a more judicious use of taxpayer dollars, he said.

Rich said he’s also closely following union negotiations with the city surrounding salaries and benefits for officers, and said the city must pay police more than it does today. That’s a position that already earned him the support of the police union. “Morale is bad and we are losing officers,” he said. “We need to get that resolved.”

As for his resume, Rich serves as owner and president of SJR Associates and worked more than 30 years in the pharmaceutical field. He was appointed by two different governors in Michigan to the Board of Pharmacy there, including three years as chair. That gives him a familiarity with working on a government board and with Robert’s Rules of Order. He also continues to hold a position as clinical adjunct assistant professor at the University of Michigan, where he earned his own pharmacy degree.

Rich also holds a doctorate in Theocentric Business Ethics. That’s part of why he has accepted no commercial developers’ donations to his campaign, he said. “I hope to be above reproach and make the best decisions for the citizens of Sarasota.”

He faces Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, Dan Lobeck, Terrill Salem, Carl Shoffstall and Debbie Trice in the Aug. 23 race.

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