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Longboat Key Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 2 years ago

Election season starts for town commission hopefuls

Want to become a town commissioner? Here's how to do it.
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

More than half of the Town Commission seats will open this spring, an opportunity for any Longboat Key resident with a vested interest in local governance.

Residents will have the chance to vote March 20, 2018, for one of two at-large commissioners and representatives for Districts 1, 3 and 5, according to Town Clerk Trish Granger.

Randy Clair (District 1 commissioner), Ed Zunz (District 5 commissioner and vice mayor) and Irwin Pastor (at-large commissioner) all qualify for re-election. District 3 Commissioner and Mayor Terry Gans has reached his term limit and cannot run for re-election, Granger said.

Anyone seeking a position on the town commission can start at Town Hall, where they'll find all the documents necessary to become a candidate.

Prospective candidates have until Nov. 20 to qualify.

To begin the process, Longboat Key residents must complete and submit two forms: one appointing their campaign treasurer and designating the bank they plan to use to finance their campaign and another confirming their candidacy for town commissioner. State law requires that these documents be submitted to the town clerk before the process can continue. 

Aspiring district candidates are then required to collect 10 signatures — recorded on an official candidate petition — from registered voters who live in the districts they hope to represent. At-large contenders may gather names of any registered voter on the island.

Potential candidates must then submit their petitions to the office of the Supervisor of Elections in either Sarasota or Manatee county, depending on which county the district is located.

Districts 1 and 3 are in Sarasota county. District 5 is in Manatee county.

At-large candidates often collect signatures from one county, Granger said, because signatures must be verified at the Supervisor of Elections office in the county where voters are registered.

Once the office of the Supervisor of Elections verifies signatures, it notifies Longboat Key’s Town Clerk of the potential candidates' eligibility. If an individual qualifies before noon on Nov. 20, they will be considered a candidate for town commission and must submit a financial disclosure — which includes sources of income and becomes public record —  and a loyalty oath, Granger said.

The Town Commission represents the community as its political leadership with the power to adopt and amend ordinances and resolutions, write policies and standards of service, decide how much money is spent and for what purposes, determine what taxes are levied and appoint citizens to various boards and committees, according to the town’s website.

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