Suzanne Atwell and Susan Chapman, the city’s two at-large city commissioners elected this week, were sworn into office Friday afternoon during a statutory City Commission meeting. Atwell and Chapman were elected Tuesday in a runoff election.
Following the ceremony, city commissioners selected District 3 Commissioner Shannon Snyder to serve as mayor for the next year. District 1 Commissioner Willie Shaw, who had been vice-mayor, was chosen to serve again as vice-mayor.
Commissioners Paul Caragiulo, Atwell and Snyder voted for Snyder’s one-year appointment as mayor. Caragiulo made the motion for Snyder as mayor.
“I am very, very humbled,” said Snyder.
Snyder said he was a “little surprised” by the appointment. “If I had know, I would have gotten a new suit,” said Snyder, who said his old suit fit a little lose after he recently lost 110 pounds.
Sarasota has a ceremonial mayor selected from commissioners. The position historically rotates annually; often the vice mayor is selected as mayor.
In a brief interview after the meeting, Snyder said he will try to focus on fiscal issues, following the example set by outgoing commissioner Terry Turner, who during his term on the City Commission emphasized the financial climate and highlighted the need for changes such as revamping the city’s pension system.
“I want the city to survive,” Snyder said. “I want employees to get what they were promised.”
Snyder also said he felt that it would be a challenge to follow after Atwell, who had presided over meetings as mayor for two years.
Snyder credited former Mayor Lou Ann Palmer with first getting him involved in local politics.
“I complained about a stop sign,” Snyder said. So she signed me up for a transportation committee.”
During his final remarks as a commissioner, Turner the city needs to be run more efficiently in upcoming lean budget years. Options such as outsourcing and working with other organizations need to be considered, Turner said.
“We will need to manage the city a lot better,” Turner said. “It will not be comfortable.”