Redistricting must be one of the more thankless tasks for lawmakers. It is rife with political intrigue and the appearance of political intrigue. Every change is greeted with suspicion — even as lawmakers must weigh population, demographics, geography, political boundaries and racial makeup.
But having said that, we must make our own criticism of the proposed new Florida Senate districts: The proposal splits Lakewood Ranch into two Senate districts. The Ranch is clearly one community with a plethora of common interests. And it is not too big to be in a Senate district.
Currently, Lakewood Ranch in both Manatee and Sarasota counties resides in District 21, the seat currently held by Sen. Mike Bennett. In the proposed redistricting maps, Lakewood Ranch is split along the county line, putting the corporate park and the small Sarasota Polo Club in District 23, currently held by Sen. Nancy Detert.
Detert, a Venice resident, would find Lakewood Ranch on the periphery of her political focus.
This has greater future problems; Lakewood Ranch is planning thousands of new homes on the Sarasota County side of the Ranch, which would be part of District 23.
This proposed alignment appears unnecessary. The rest of District 21, which currently stops at the Manatee-Hillsborough counties line, would push northward and take portions of eastern Hillsborough and western Polk counties. These areas have much less in common with Lakewood Ranch or Bradenton. And the boundaries would violate the Legislature’s goal of more compact districts. Basically, the proposal makes no sense for the Ranch.
While there could be an upside with two state senators representing the Ranch, in reality, both of them easily could be distracted with their other areas and the Ranch could be left without focused representation in Tallahassee.
It is still early in the process. We urge lawmakers to find a way to keep representation of the current and future Ranch in one district. It only makes sense and is in the best interest of the residents and businesses.
+ Thanksgiving smiles
Dr. Amir Guirguis and Creekwood Dental in Lakewood Ranch treated nearly 100 adult patients the day before Thanksgiving Day — free.
Dubbed Give Thanks with a Smile Day, dentists and dental assistants primarily did cleanings, fillings and extractions.
There was no shortage of thankfulness on the part of those receiving the free care. “I’m tired of this broken tooth. It’s a Thanksgiving blessing,” Debrah Mitchell told the East County Observer, reflecting the feelings of many.
This is not Creekwood Dental’s first foray into community generosity. For two years, the dental practice has provided free dental care to Manatee County public school children as part of Give Kids a Smile Day in February.