Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

2016 Was a Year of Surprises | Nationally and Locally, Decisions Defied the Odds

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

2016 Was a Year of Surprises | Nationally and Locally, Decisions Defied the Odds

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States, Todd Bowden became superintendent-designate of the Sarasota County School District and Manatee County voters approved not one but two taxes.

Perhaps 2016 is best described by the phrase made famous by the TV character Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Of course, a few folks can say they saw one of these things coming. Joe Gruters, head of Sarasota County's Republican Party, was among the first in Florida to bet the house on Trump; similarly, Allan J. Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, said early and late that Democrats would not maintain the White House.

But few others believed that Trump would whip a crowded field of establishment GOP candidates and lose the popular count by nearly 3 million votes, yet win the presidency through the Electoral College.

Bowden clearly had his eyes on the superintendency, yet his resume was lacking a common requisite -- work as an assistant superintendent -- and he faced allegations of gender-based harassment late in the selection process. Nevertheless, he was chosen by the School Board to replace longtime Superintendent Lori White early in 2017.

In Manatee, officials in the school district and county held out a sliver of hope that voters would endorse a total of 1 percent in local-option sales taxes -- despite previous signs that the community had lost faith in local government and abandoned the willingness to invest in the future. But thanks to a grass-roots campaign launched by business leaders, and widespread recognition of the value of proposed projects, a one-half percent sales tax for county government was approved by nearly 57 percent of voters, and the same amount for school-district capital expenditures gained support from slightly more than 59 percent.

Given the odds against all three of these things happening, we'd be willing to wager that no one around here laid any dough on this trifecta. …

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