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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017 3 years ago

City Commission candidate questionnaire: Matt Sperling

At-large candidate Matt Sperling shares his thoughts on the key issues ahead of the March 14 election.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Click here for the full video.

Name: Matt Sperling

Age: 59

Profession/experience: Southside Elementary School, Brookside Middle School, Sarasota High. Florida State University, B.S. Economics (1981). Two children: Ryan, 28, and Lauren, 24, both born at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Retired Senior Vice President of Investments at Raymond James (1997-2014). A.G. Edwards (1981-1997). Specialized in municipal debt obligations.

In a crowded field, what makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I am the most experienced candidate for providing solutions to the city of Sarasota’s problems. I have started and operated a business on St. Armands Circle, and I understand what serious issues face city residents. I have a solution for our most urgent problem: 2,000 affordable apartments.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term on the commission?

  • Implement my plan of creating the Sarasota Housing Trust to lease and raise $300 million in private capital from high net-worth investors. The 48-acre barely utilized “executive” course at city-owned Bobby Jones Golf Club is the perfect site.
  • Eliminate all city of Sarasota departments as rapidly as possible. Sell all city assets like Van Wezel, G. Wiz, Payne Park Tennis and Skate Park, Sarasota Auditorium. Merge all planning, zoning, inspection with Sarasota County. Merge utility department with Manatee County or Sarasota County. Ninety percent of all city employees should be working for Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. Use all savings to pay down the $320 million pension deficit. Near the employment cores of downtown and Sarasota Memorial, link with a commuter trail on the railroad tracks from Newtown to Bobby Jones Village.
  • Fifty additional police officers, all on specially designed bicycles, all with EMT training. As the SPD transforms from inefficient SUV vehicles, due to the uniqueness of our city, to bicycle and foot patrol, the citizens and tourists will feel safer. Siesta Key joins the city to benefit from the millage rollback from staff reductions and the superior method of law enforcement.

How would you serve as a good financial steward of the city’s budget?

My experience in municipal debt finance and my plan for raising $300 million in private capital are why you should consider voting for me.

How do you believe the commission should strike a balance between maintaining an economically vibrant city and addressing concerns related to growth?

Balance between economic vibrancy and growth concerns are simple for me. Growth is good. A percentage of the residents will object to change and growth, and they should probably vote for the STOP! candidates.

Do you believe the city should restrict the use of administrative review for development proposals?


Would you consider raising the general fund millage rate from its current level?


Do you support the creation of a paid parking system in the city?


Do you support the role of Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 and the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization as the primary planning group for the redevelopment of the bayfront?


Do you support the use of downtown as a venue for large-scale, multi-day events?


Do you support the creation of a parks & recreation taxing district?


Do you think the city is growing too fast?


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