Over the past few weeks, I have received requests from a number of people seeking advice about the upcoming elections. Rather than continue to respond individually, I have decided to highlight a few key local races. I am staying away from the top of the ticket races. If you are motivated enough to vote, you have probably decided which candidates you are supporting in the governor’s race, cabinet elections, and for congress. Also, if you are seeking my advice, you probably have a pretty good idea of who I would recommend. But here are my thoughts on some of the other races you will find on your ballot:
Sarasota County Commission, District Two: ALEXANDRA COE
I haven’t met Ms. Coe but we have been in touch a couple of times. She is a New College alum, business woman, organic gardener and a long time resident of Sarasota County. Her campaign is stressing ethics, environmental protections and sustainable development. While I don’t agree with her on everything I think she would bring an important new voice to the commission and would be an approachable representative. I had been supporting my friend Steve McAllister’s write-in candidacy but he recently decided to support Ms. Coe. So do I. http://www.alexandracoe.com
Sarasota County Commission, District 4: RAY PORTER
I was on the campaign trail in 2008 and so was Ray. We got to know one another a little and have stayed in loose touch. Ray is a solid citizen and moderate in his vision. Over the course of this campaign he has begun to find his voice. I have a lot of confidence in Ray and think he would be a hard working and ethical commissioner.
School Board Member District 1: KEN MARSH
I used to be active in the Sarasota County Civic League, as was Ken. We would talk at lunch and I was always amazed at how many projects he was involved with. We have Ken to thank for much of the infrastructure improvements in our school district over the past decade or so. Ken also has a true understanding of budget issues. Ken Marsh is exactly the type of person we should want to serve on the school board. He has earned this election. http://kenmarshforschoolboard.com
Second DCA Judicial Retention: YES on Judges ALTENBERND, SILBERMAN and SLEET.
In Florida, our appellate judges appear on the ballot every six years. This is an opportunity for the voters to remove judges who are corrupt or incompetent. It would be rare to recommend a No vote, even when I don’t like the judge. We really don’t want to further politicize the judiciary and it is a slippery slope to recommend a no vote against a judge because I disagree with their rulings. Judge Sleet is a new judge and has earned the opportunity to serve a full term. Judges Altenbernd and Silberman have served for a long time and I am a little more hesitant to endorse them. I am frustrated by the fact that the judges of the Second DCA only explain their rulings in about one out of ten cases. But I can’t necessarily attribute this policy solely to these judges. For more information, you can go here: http://www.floridabar.org/TheVotesInYourCourt
In a perfect world, or in a state with a functioning legislature, the constitution should provide the framework for government and not specify policy. Unfortunately the Florida Legislature does not respond to the needs of the people nor care about the future of the state. Therefore, our constitution allows the people to pursue citizen initiatives when the legislature fails to act.
Amendment One: YES
I was born in Florida in 1961 and have watched large portions of the state disappear to development. In recent years the pace of destruction has sped up. We are facing an imminent water crisis. The legislature's response has been to defund preservation programs and remove necessary regulations. Amendment One will make preservation a priority by dedicating a portion of the excise document tax to purchase land to put into trust. If you care at all about the future of this state, this is an easy yes vote.
Amendment Two: YES
The main criticism of Amendment Two is that somehow the standards for medical marijuana will be too loose. Honestly I wish the Amendment went further than it does. However, I think allowing marijuana use under medical supervision seems like a good starting point. The Colorado experience has already demonstrated that the recreational use of marijuana can be taxed and successfully regulated without any major problems. I am a major proponent of criminal justice reform and don’t want to visit anyone else in jail who was using marijuana for whatever reason.
Amendment Three: NO
This sneaky little amendment will allow the outgoing governor to make Supreme Court and other judicial appointments. This is just terrible public policy, no matter your political preference. Of course it was the legislature who put this on the ballot. Vote No.
Sarasota Charter Review Board:
District 1: VALERIE BUCHAND – I know Valerie and she is a great voice for the people.
District 2: VICKI NIGHSWANDER
District 3: JENNIFER COHEN—Jennifer ran a good race for county commissioner a couple of years ago. She is hard working and trustworthy.
District 4: SHAWNA MACHADO—I got to know Shawna through my work with the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness. Shawna was a homeless student at U.S.F. who overcame adversity to become a community leader. She and I have given talks on homelessness together. Quite simply, Shawna is one of the best people I know.
District 5: BRUCE DILLON—Bruce is very active with the Nokomis Area Civic Association.
Sarasota Soil and Water Conservation District: MATT WOODALL
I know Matt and he is a good guy and a hard worker.