Sweeting will face Tony Sawyer in the general election.
Occupation: Manager, Fogartyville Community Media & Arts Center
Previous political offices: None
Political party: Democrat
About: Arlene Sweeting is a native Floridian and has lived in the Sarasota and Bradenton area since 1993. Since moving here, she taught middle school science for seven years, started and operated a community coffeehouse for five years, managed a community radio station for nine years and currently runs the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. Over the years I have been active locally with a number of organizations including the Manatee/Sarasota Sierra Club as outings leader, publications chairwoman, conservation chairwoman and group leader, the American Association of University Women mentor program and Transition Sarasota. My work over the past decade has been geared to supporting a more active, educated and engaged citizenry. I believe people should have a voice in their local government and in decisions that affect their community.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities during your term?
Encourage citizen participation. I will work to inform residents about the charter and actively seek citizen input on issues that come before the Charter Review Board.
To adopt a Citizen’s Bill of Rights that increases the transparency and accountability of local government.
I have been approached by a number of residents that support single-member districts and I think it is time for the Charter Review Board to revisit the way in which county-wide offices are elected. I would be interested in looking at a number of different options to determine what might work best in Sarasota.
Do you think the board should take a more active or passive role in determining potential changes to the charter?
The Board should take a more active role in educating and engaging with citizens about changes to the charter. As an elected Charter Review Board member you have a higher level of responsibility to be familiar with what is in the charter and for paying attention to possible areas for improvement. By voting for you, people are entrusting you with this responsibility. That being said, the Charter Review Board should only propose changes with considerable deliberation and public support.
What is your position on the idea of turning the Charter Review Board into an appointed position, rather than an elected office?
The Charter Review Board should remain an elected body. It provides a no barrier — it’s an entry-level position to citizens interested in getting more engaged with their government. There is no petition requirement and no filing fee to run for the office. It gives citizens a voice in how county government operates and gives them a meaningful way to participate.