A group attempting to have voters consider a new city charter via referendum has fallen short of its goal of getting onto the November ballot.
Formed earlier this year, It’s Time Sarasota has campaigned in support of a new charter that, most notably, would create an elected “strong” mayor as the executive of the municipal government. The group has attempted to gather signatures over the past several months in support of its cause, but was well short of the requisite number of petitions as of a June 16 deadline recommended by City Attorney Robert Fournier.
It’s Time Sarasota was still pushing to collect signatures in hopes of making this November’s ballot, but in a release today, the group announced it had ended its efforts to have the charter considered during the upcoming election.
The group is not giving up the cause entirely, however. Instead, it’s refocusing its efforts, announcing plans to attempt to get onto the November 2016 ballot. It’s Time Sarasota has emphasized the importance of a November vote; three other initiatives that would have created a “strong” mayor position were handily defeated in spring elections.
In the release, the group chalked up its lack of success to external communication. The Citizen’s Voice, a group that campaigned against the proposed city charter, frequently criticized It’s Time Sarasota for the lack of resident involvement in the crafting of the document.
“As we plan for our next campaign in 2016, It’s Time will place greater emphasis on seeking broader community input and expanding community awareness of the need for reform,” the release said.
The Citizen’s Voice issued its own release in response to the news that It’s Time Sarasota had failed to make this year’s ballot. In the release, chairwoman Eileen Normile points to the fact that It’s Time Sarasota gathered less than 60% of the necessary signatures as evidence that citizens aren’t interested in a “strong” mayor.
“Sarasotans have made their wishes in this governance debate crystal clear,” Normile said. “We believe this is yet another confirmation of the intelligence and good judgment of Sarasota's voters.”
Contact David Conway at [email protected].