Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Election; Bradenton Nightlife

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Sarasota Election; Bradenton Nightlife

Article excerpt


Commission free-for-all

On Tuesday, Sarasota voters will conclude -- with traditional balloting at the polls -- the first round of an eight-candidate free-for-all for two seats on the five-member City Commission.

All registered voters in the city of Sarasota can cast ballots, since the election is for two at-large seats on the commission. (Candidates for those positions run and are elected citywide; the three other seats are filled in voting limited to the residents of Districts 1, 2 and 3.)

The size of the field makes it highly likely that no candidate will receive a majority of votes. (In March 2013, when there were six candidates; three received between 20 percent and 25 percent of the votes, two each received 13 percent and one candidate garnered four percent.) In the event that no candidate tops 50 percent Tuesday, the top three vote-getters will go to a runoff in May.

We'll state before the results of this first election are reported, as we have stated previously, that Sarasota should consider changing the format of the city's nonpartisan, at-large elections.

The current system makes it unnecessarily difficult for voters to discern the differences among candidates, increases the chances of runoffs and can lead to so-called bullet voting, in which members of political parties or special-interest groups vote for only one candidate rather than making two selections.

Changing to a format in which candidates seek a specific seat would put Sarasota in sync with other local-government elections. The change could easily be accomplished by proposing the reform to city voters in a future referendum.

In the meantime, voters seeking more information about the eight candidates' backgrounds and their positions on issues can go to

Achieving balance

Not so many years ago, Bradenton didn't have to worry about the impacts of nightlife on the city's downtown, waterfront and arts district. …

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