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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 4 years ago

Charter Review Committee rejects elected-mayor idea

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

City residents have voted three times on an elected-mayor proposal, and three times they have rejected such plans.

The Charter Review Committee does not want to burden voters with a fourth proposal.

“I think voters have elected-mayor fatigue,” said committee member Shannon Snyder.

The committee is tasked with recommending to the City Commission changes to the city’s charter. If commissioners approve of a change, that proposal then goes to the voters.

Committee members decided Feb. 1 not to recommend an elected-mayor form of government.

“The people have spoken three times,” said committee member Hank Battie. “How many times do you have to say no?”

Member John Patterson suggested Sarasota could adopt a leadership-mayor form of government, such as the one Tallahassee has.

“The voters have rejected all the elected-mayor proposals before them, but they have never had a leadership-mayor proposal,” he said.

A leadership mayor is defined as someone who is directly elected to a multi-year term, presides over the City Commission and signs official city documents. Basically, his powers and duties would be no different than those of Sarasota’s current mayor, which prompted Battie to ask, “What’s the point if the powers are no different?”

Last year, 12 former Sarasota mayors publicly endorsed a leadership-mayor model for the city.
Committee members Virginia Hoffman and Jim Lampl did see an advantage to an elected mayor, in that he would be less likely to micromanage the city manager.

“There have been many instances of the city manager not being able to do his job because the mayor and other commissioners are meddling,” said Lampl.

Three citizens at the Feb. 1 meeting asked the committee to reject the proposal.

“There has never been a groundswell of support for an elected mayor,” said Susan Chapman. “There is a persistent minority that doesn’t accept the will of the people.”

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com

 

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