Five candidates for two seats in the Sarasota County Commission took questions from the public at a forum last night sponsored by the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations.
Charles Hines, William Brian Slider and Randy McLendon, all vying for the District 5 commission seat currently held by Jon Thaxton, attended. And current commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson defended her District 3 seat against North Port Democrat Jennifer Cohen.
Questions covered the role of local government in economic development, specifically incentives provided to attract companies to Sarasota County.
Slider said he would push for alternatives to orthodox incentives.
“(Sarasota County) needs to think outside of the box,” he said. Cohen said the county should not overlook small businesses that are already in the area. “I went to a restaurant the other night and it was closed the next day,” she said. “It’s sad.”
Cohen attempted to separate herself from the incumbent Robinson when an audience member asked about libraries. She criticized the policy of cutting library hours, which she said hurts students and the elderly.
Robinson quickly noted that the county received the 2012 Library of the Year award.
The audience also voiced frustration about planned roundabouts on U.S. Highway 41.
“I think whoever (designed and planned) the roundabouts ought to have their head examined,” McLendon said.
Hines assured attendees that they were not in for traffic disruptions or confusion.
“The traffic does move, you just have to get used to it,” he said. “If you miss (the turn) you just go around one more time,” he said.
Read more about the candidate forum in the Thursday, June 14 issue of the Pelican Press.
Contact Alex Mahdevan at [email protected].