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SRQ DAILY Sep 10, 2022

"The widespread appeal of New College is evidenced by the numerous accolades the College has received in just the past couple of months. "

- Patricia Okker, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  A Tale of Two Blue Districts
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Democrats this year hope to win a seat on the Sarasota County Commission for the first time in decades. The Manatee County Commission notably has included one Democrat on it for about as long. As it happens, the year could end with each board having one Democrat who happens to be the only Black official holding county office.

But there’s a mix of hope and anxiety right now about whether this year’s midterms will be a hospitable environment for either board to end up with one blue seat. What can the results of the August primary tell us in either case?

In Sarasota, Fredd Atkins, a former Sarasota City Commissioner and the city’s first Black Mayor, pulled somewhat of an upset in the Democratic primary in County Commission District 2. Despite spending less than two other competitors, he took 35.3% of the vote to beat sitting City Commissioner Hagen Brody’s 34.24% and conservationist Mike Cosentino’s 30.47%. I’ll leave the mission of how Atkins brings his opponents’ base of support back home for the general election to his campaign. But in total, there were 10,825 Democrats who cared enough about this contest to weigh in on Aug. 23.

On the same day Atkins won, Mark Smith snagged the Republican nomination with 57.77% of the vote over Lourdes Ramirez’s 42.23%. He notably earned more votes than Atkins, with 4,820 Republicans bubbling by his name compared to 3,821 who supported Atkins in his primary. But then only 8,344 Republicans voted in the race at all, nearly 2,500 fewer voters than participated in the Democratic primary.

It seems Atkins’ fate rests in his ability to win over those who favored Brody and Cosentino in August. If the party can unite, Atkins should make up lost ground and win over independent voters (who history shows us are more likely to vote like their neighbors even if they won’t register with a party).

Up in Manatee, another Democratic Primary played out in a different District 2. There, Manatee County Commissioner Bellamy plays defense after winning the nomination over former County Commissioner Charles Smith, a previous foe Bellamy unseated in a primary four years ago. He was able to secure victory winning 63.9% of the vote, though that only represented 2,637 voters. In total, just 4,127 Democrats in total voted in the district race. 

No Republican primary played out but Amanda Ballard, an attorney and counsel to the Department of Children and Families, will appear as a Republican challenger to Bellamy on the November ballot. And there were other Republican primaries held countywide in August, including in District 2. For example, 4,876 District 2 Republicans cast ballots in a congressional primary, more than the number of Democrats who voted in Bellamy’s August Democratic race. A total of 4,427 Republicans voted in one of two state Senate contests. And 4,835 voted in the high-profile county-wide race where Carol Whitmore lost her own County Commission seat. Of note, Bellamy and Whitmore have been viewed as allies on the board despite a difference in party affiliation.

Thanks to changes redistricting wrought in the county this year, the District 2 race may not be one decided in the Democratic primary, as it traditionally has been in the past. Bellamy needs for there to be greater enthusiasm to vote in November to put up a solid challenge against Ballard this fall.

Of course, the primary turnout only says so much. Turnout will be higher in November, with Governor and Senate contests driving voters to the polls. A lot of voters most likely will weigh in on the race for the first time during the general election. And the mood of the electorate about national politics may determine if more Democrats than Republicans vote. Still, August voters represent some of the most politically engaged and reliable participants in democracy. The turnout from the primaries should give a significant hint how things turn out in the general.

Jacob Ogles is a contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA who has been covering business, politics and community issues for SRQ Magazine and SRQ DAILY since 2008. He also contributes the Under The Hood column which appears in the Saturday Perspectives edition of SRQ DAILY offering a twice-monthly analysis of the driving forces behind Sarasota-Manatee politics. 

Image: (left) Sarasota County District 2; (right) Manatee County District 2.

[Higher Education]  New College of Florida Gains New Visibility
Patricia Okker, patokker@ncf.edu

When I first came to New College of Florida a year ago, one of my priorities was to increase the College's reputation nationally. Rather than being seen as a "hidden gem," I wanted New College to be known as a "heralded gem."

This fall, I’ve seen that hope of mine come to fruition. I’m proud to say we just welcomed our largest incoming class in five years, with 30% more students than last fall.

Classes began on Aug. 29, and a diverse cohort of high-achieving students (many with a grade point average of 4.0) arrived from all over the state, country and world. These students were drawn to our customized honors curriculum and our career-integrated learning experience. We have also seen an increase in the number of new students who graduated in the top 10% of their high school classes.

“Our numbers this fall show that New College is poised to educate more leaders of tomorrow than ever before,” says New College Provost Suzanne Sherman, Ph.D. 

At a time when college enrollment numbers are on the decline nationwide, our pronounced upswing is worth celebrating. 

“The widespread appeal of a New College education is reflected in the diverse fall class,” says David Boisvert, New College’s interim vice president for enrollment management. “New College is such a special community and the world is taking notice.”

The widespread appeal of New College is evidenced by the numerous accolades the College has received in just the past couple of months. Fiske Guide to Colleges named New College one of the nation’s 20 “Best Buy” Colleges and Universities, and The Princeton Review ranked New College among “The Best 388 Colleges” in the country for 2023.

In fact, every year since The Princeton Review began publishing its “best colleges” rankings in 1992, New College has made the list. The Princeton Review also ranked New College No. 3 for the Top 20 Best Schools for Making an Impact (Public Schools), and No. 7 for both the Top 20 Best Alumni Networks and the Top 20 Best Schools for Financial Aid (Public Schools).

In “The Best 388 Colleges” guide, New College is described as a “uniquely small and unconventional public institution” that “provides challenging courses for highly self-motivated students who want a large amount of control over their academic choices.”

I couldn’t agree more. Self-motivated students choose New College for a reason, and their experience here often serves as the launching pad for their big ambitions.

Our high rankings and increased enrollment this fall are further proof of the value of a New College education. But our success as an institution can best be told through the stories of our students—students who are generating their own national visibility for being innovators and trailblazers.

For example, over Labor Day weekend, one of our New College seniors—Antonia “Toni” Ginsberg-Klemmt—was featured in ABC Audio's special, "Impact: Climate & Sustainability” with Aaron Katersky. The radio broadcast was streamed on stations all over the world.

Toni is an OZY Genius and a multi-award-winning entrepreneurial student. Her sustainable GismoPower invention (a mobile solar-powered carport) is taking the green industry by storm, and she exemplifies the kind of inventive spirit that is so strong at New College. She created GismoPower on our campus, is currently competing for the American Made Solar Prize, and is helping revolutionize global solar energy usage (and she hasn’t even graduated yet).

When I am surrounded daily by students like Toni, I can’t help but be inspired. So it brings me such joy this fall to see New College earning the recognition it deserves as the state’s designated honors college—a place where bright, driven students can pursue their passions and thrive as individuals.

I’m honored to serve as president for my second academic year at New College, as our visibility continues to grow.

Patricia Okker, Ph.D. is the president of New College of Florida. 

Image courtesy New College of Florida Facebook

[On Politics]  Vote Climate in the Midterms
Sydney Otis

I love Sarasota. That is why this election season we must vote for leaders and ballot measures that support bold action on climate change. The latest IPCC report (https://templatelab.com/climate-change-report/) calls for a strengthened response to climate change to reduce the impacts it is already having. I am concerned about the threat of hurricanes and the worsening red tide we are experiencing in Sarasota and how this impacts my family’s health, our community’s security, and our country’s stability.

And I am not alone! Three-quarters of Americans now say they personally are concerned about climate change. Only 14% of us think others around us are very concerned when the reality is that nearly half of us, 45%, are very concerned85% of us agree we have a moral responsibility to create a safe and healthy environment for ourselves and our children.

We can use our voice and our vote this election season to protect our climate. Join me by confirming your voter registration and seeing what will be on your ballot so you can make an informed vote. Request an absentee ballot if you’re unable to vote in person or find your polling location if you are able to vote in person. 

Sydney Otis is a resident of Sarasota.


Image courtesy Pixabay

[New Menu]  First Watch Introduces New Specialty Iced Coffees with Seasonal Brunch Menu

Hot summer days will get an extra cool start as First Watch, the leading Daytime Dining restaurant concept, introduces new specialty iced coffees to its permanent breakfast, brunch and lunch menu. The two iced coffees, Mint Mocha and Honey Caramel Crunch, feature Ghirardelli® dark chocolate chips, toffee crumbles, honey and sweet cream cold foam. Five limited-time offerings also join the summer seasonal menu, including the fan-favorite Watermelon Wake-Up juice, now through August 13*.  First Watch’s two specialty iced coffees permanently join its full menu, available for pickup, delivery and dine-in service: Mint Mocha – Chocolate and fresh mint topped with a sweet cream cold foam and mini Ghirardelli® dark chocolate chips. Honey Caramel Crunch – Salted caramel and honey topped with a sweet cream cold foam and toffee crumbles. The concept’s new seasonal menu offerings are available through August 13 and include: Strawberry Tres Leches French Toast - Thick-cut, custard-dipped challah bread griddled and topped with fresh strawberries, sweetened condensed milk, warm dulce de leche, whipped cream and spiced gingerbread cookie crumbles, and lightly dusted with powdered cinnamon sugar. Carnitas Breakfast Tostadas - Savory hand-pulled carnitas, Cheddar and Monterey Jack, seasoned black beans and two basted cage-free eggs atop two crispy corn tostadas and topped with white queso, fresh sliced avocado and housemade roasted corn salsa. Garnished with house-pickled red onions, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served with a cup of fresh fruit sprinkled with Tajín® seasoning. Lone Star Brisket Hash - Smoked, hand-pulled brisket and house-pickled sweet peppers in a potato hash, topped with two cage-free eggs any style, Cheddar and Monterey Jack, fresh smashed avocado, housemade pico de gallo, chipotle aioli and scallions. Served with two warm wheat-corn tortillas. With this menu, First Watch is also unveiling its take on a southern classic – cornbread – marking the first time the restaurant has introduced a shareable option during summer to join its signature Million Dollar Bacon. Bacon Cheddar Cornbread - Freshly baked cornbread with Cheddar and Monterey Jack, bacon and scallions. Topped with house-whipped honey butter. From the Juice Bar. Watermelon Wake-Up - Watermelon, pineapple, lime and mint. First Watch’s new specialties are the latest in its revolving seasonal menu, which follows the sun to source the highest quality ingredients, wherever and whenever they are in season, five times a year. These flavorful, limited-time offerings are available to order alongside its robust menu of breakfast, brunch and lunch favorites. First Watch is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for pickup, delivery and dine-in service. For more information about First Watch, its seasonal menu offerings or to find the nearest location, visit firstwatch.com. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: The Jersey Tenors: Part II , July 19 – September 11, Varies.

Back with a new show, this opera/rock mash-up sensation blends iconic opera classics with Rock & Roll hits from artists like Queen, Journey, and Elton John, along with the songs from Jersey’s finest—Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and Bon Jovi. From Frank Sinatra to Figaro, hear The Tenors’ original arrangements of songs celebrating artists from the stage to the screen, including “Walk Like A Man,” “Your Song,” “That’s Life,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and many more. The Jersey Tenors: Part II, created and conceived by Brian Noonan, will play beginning July 19, 2022 in FST's Goldstein Cabaret. Run Time is 70 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Goldstein Cabaret

[SOON]  THEATER: Urbanite Theatre: Mr. Yunioshi , September 7 – September 11, Varied

MR. YUNIOSHI Written, Directed and Performed by J. Elijah Cho. A Limited Engagement. September 7 - 11, 2022. Urbanite Theatre. What compels an actor to play a character that they probably shouldn't? In this side splitting roast, J. Elijah Cho cleverly answers that question by exploring Mickey Rooney's infamous yellowface performance of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's. For tickets and info contact - phone (941) 321-1397, email info@urbanitetheatre.com, website www.urbanitetheatre.com

Urbanite Theatre , 1487 2nd Street Sarasota FL, 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Artful Giraffe: Sunday Funday , September 11, 11am-3pm

Join us the 2nd Sunday every month for Sunday Fundays! IT'S GOING TO BE AN ARTFUL GOOD TIME! Outdoor Market, Activities, Live Music, Food Trucks, Raffles & More! Support local artists and businesses in the Historic Downtown District. Tap into your creative side and browse through a vast collection of fine art and handmade one-of-a-kind gifts! From shopping to creating you can unleash your inner artist with ceramic painting and other fun activities. Portion of proceeds donated to local charities and organizations. Sun, September 11, 2022 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM EDT At The Artful Giraffe 1861 Fruitville Road Sarasota, FL 34236. To Book a Sunday Funday VIP Ticket (All Ages, 4hr -$40) visit artfulgiraffe.com


The Artful Giraffe , 1861 Fruitville Road Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  FILM: Sarasota Film Society: Movies For Heroes , September 13 – December 13, Varied

Sarasota Film Society is proud to present "Movies For Heroes", a year long Salute to our Military. Active, Non-Active, Retired Personnel & their family are welcomed to join us once a month at 11am at Burns Court & Lakewood Ranch Cinemas starting in January of 2022 for a year of free movie screenings. 10% of the concession sales from these screenings will go to Wounded Warrior Project. Space is limited, reserve your tickets today. Location Burns Court Cinemas 506 Burns Court Sarasota, FL 34236.

506 Burns Court Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  THEATER: Manatee Performing Arts Center: RENT , September 14 – October 2, Varies

La Vie Boheme! Jonathan Larson’s iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that shaped a generation of audiences and taught us all to measure our life in love. Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Rent has become a pop cultural phenomenon. with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages. This is theatre at its best – exuberant, passionate and joyous. For more information visit www.manateeperformingartscenter.com, Ticket Office 941-748-5875

Manatee Performing Arts Center , 502 Third Avenue West Bradenton, FL 34205

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: MOTE MARINE: Meet the Women of Mote , September 14 – October 7, Varied

MEET THE WOMEN OF MOTE This year, we are celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of  Mote’s founding director, Dr. Eugenie Clark. Thanks to her amazing legacy, many women have followed in her wake. This fall, we introduce you to the marine science educators, researchers, and ocean explorers that we call "The Women of Mote".  You’ll learn about their journeys, career challenges, and their incredible accomplishments impacting marine environments in our own backyard and around the globe. We hope you'll join us- and find yourself inspired- as we celebrate these talented and pioneering women during the second season of Women of Mote. The three-part series will include two virtual events, and one hybrid event held in the WAVE Center at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium while being broadcast to our virtual audience. Sept. 14 and 21 and one hybrid event Oct. 7. More event details can be found at mote.org/womenofmote

Mote Marine , 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Friday Fest 2022 , June 17 – September 16, 5pm

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Friday Fest events are our outdoor concert series that provide the community with 4 entertaining and FREE events from June to September, showcasing the best of local bands from Sarasota and Bradenton. Friday Fest brings together a wide variety of talented artists along with food trucks and drink stations on the Van Wezel lawn along the beautiful Sarasota Bayfront. Our Friday Fest lineup includes: Yesterdayze - June 17, Kettle of Fish - July 15, Big Night Out - August 12, and Jah Movement - September 16 at 5pm. 

Van Wezel

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Venice Theatre: The Revolutionists , September 16 – October 2, Varied

The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson. Four bodacious women lose their heads (literally) in this irreverent, women-centered tragicomedy set during the French Revolution. This witty, thought-provoking, raucously funny adventure was inventively conceived by one of today’s most-produced American playwrights. * Includes adult language/themes. Audience discretion advised. September 16-October 2, 2022. Tickets Adult $29 College/Educator $21 Youth $15 For more information visit venicetheatre.org, Ph. 941.488.1115, email info@venicetheatre.net 

Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave. W Venice, FL 34285 (The Box Office is currently closed for walk-up business)

[SOON]  THEATER: CreArte Latino Cultural Center: MADENUSA , September 16 – October 15, Varied

CreArte Latino Cultural Center Presents MADENUSA A Play by Claudia Soroka September 16-17, at 8 p.m., September 18 at 5 p.m., and October 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. MADENUSA is an amusing and fresh take on the immigrant experience that delves into the intricacies of adjusting to a different culture. The comedy is directed by Carolina Franco, president and artistic director of CreArte Latino Cultural Center. The play will be performed in Spanish with subtitles in English. The playwright will attend the show on September 17 with a bilingual Q & A after the performance. Tickets are $20. To purchase tickets, visit www.creartelatino.org. CreArte Latino Cultural Center is at 8251 15th Street East, Airport Mall Plaza, Suite 1, Sarasota. The show is sponsored, in part, by a $3,000 grant from Bradenton Area Arts & Culture.

CreArte Latino Cultural Center, 8251 15th Street East, Airport Mall Plaza, Suite 1, Sarasota.

[SOON]  FILM: From Script to Screen , September 16, 7:00 pm

Like an opportunity to discuss a film based on a classic Rainer Werner Fassbinder Play? How about Friday September 16 th 7 pm? Q&A directly following the film. By Bookseller Roxanne @ Burns Court Theater following the film: Peter Von Kant, Directed by Francois Ozon. Tickets available at: https://filmsociety.org/movies/showing.cfm?shoID=91977.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

Copyright © 2023 by SRQ Media Group, 331 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.
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