Skip to main content
Candidates for two open Sarasota County Commission seats appeared at a forum Monday in an early opportunity for voters to see where those running stand on key issues. Photo by David Conway
Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 26, 2014 3 years ago

Candidates speak out at CONA debate

by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations held the first candidate forum of the 2014 County Commission race Monday. Candidates for the District 2 and 4 seats, currently held by Joe Barbetta and Nora Patterson, fielded questions from the audience and CONA leaders.

Although District 2 candidate Alexandra Coe and District 4 candidate Alan Maio were absent — and some candidates in attendance seemed frustrated by the lack of nuance afforded by the strict yes-no “lightning round” questions — Tuesday’s forum was the first opportunity for citizens to hear from a majority of the contenders on several key issues.

Here’s a look at some of the responses:

District 2 Candidates
Paul Caragiulo (Republican)
Currently: Sarasota city commissioner
On improving traffic issues: “There seems to be a morphing traffic standard — we have to standardize some sort of a process. We're picking and choosing what we want to enforce.”

Steve McAllister (Write-in)
Currently: community activist
On the advantages of eliminating political parties: “More and more Americans are registering no party. They want of the people, for the people, by the people — we want real human beings who say, ‘This is what I believe in. This is what I think.’”

Shannon Snyder (Republican)
Currently: Sarasota city commissioner
What do you think your role is as a public representative? Lead, listen, be honest and straightforward. Also, to keep an eye on the budget. … Having someone who’s a fiscal hawk is important.”

Pete Theisen (Write-in)
Currently: retired acupuncturist
What would you do to foster the development of affordable housing? “I think what you have to do is simply tell them that you can't develop anymore until we get in more affordable housing — a moratorium on development.”

District 4 candidates
John Minder (No party affiliation)

Currently: Civil engineer
On how to encourage development within existing neighborhoods: “You have to first have the proper zoning, then have the proper residences. Then you have to have the proper laws in place to allow businesses to succeed.”

Ray Porter (Democrat)
Currently: communications director, Sarasota Association of Realtors
On potential changes to Sarasota 2050: “I think the 2050 plan came together through a process of charettes and public hearings and forums, and all sides of the community were able to put their 2 cents in. Now that compromise isn’t working for some people. ... What we have now is something that deserves more study.”

Lourdes Ramirez (Republican)
Currently: president, CONA
On developments outside of the Urban Service Boundary. “I think we need to have a strong line — we stop approving developments until we catch up. They lead to empty homes, to lower property values and to higher taxes to pay for the additional infrastructure.”

Unanimous: YES
• Do you support a homeless shelter for Sarasota?
• Would you vote to restore full impact fees for roadways?
• Should infill development be given the highest priority?
• Will you disavow Political Action Committees that fund negative campaigning?
• Should the county ethics review policy apply to both commissioners and staff?
• Would you support a human rights ordinance that protects all people in housing and employment?

Unanimous: NO
• Is it fair to exempt developers from fiscal neutrality as part of the 2050 Plan?

Split decisions
• Should we allow the dredging of Big Pass?
Yes: Caragiulo, McAllister Porter, Snyder, Theisen
No: Minder, Ramirez

Lone wolves
• Do you favor moving the downtown SCAT transfer station to Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue?
Theisen: Yes
Everyone else: No

• Do you support installing groins in South Lido Park?
Snyder: Yes
Everyone else: No

Contact David Conway at [email protected]


Related Stories