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Sarasota Friday, Sep. 25, 2020 2 years ago

Sarasota City Commission District 2: Liz Alpert

Meet the candidate.

These questionnaire responses were originally published in July for the primary election.

Name: Liz Alpert    

Age: 71

Family: Married. Six daughters (Three are mine. Three are his) Eight grandchildren. (Three are mine. Five are his.)

Bio: Alpert, an incumbent, was first elected to the Sarasota City Commission in May 2015, serving as vice mayor from May 2017 to May 2018 and then as mayor from May 2018 to November 2019.

She holds a degree from the University of South Florida, summa cum laude, which she earned after years on the job. At age 54 she started classes at Stetson University College of Law. In addition to being on the City Commission, she is a practicing family law and estate planning attorney.

She has served on the city of Sarasota’s Human Relations Board, then the city’s Civil Service/Personnel Board until her election to the commission in 2015.

She currently serves as the city’s representative to governing board for The Bay project. In addition, Alpert serves as one of the city’s representative to the Metropolitan Regional Planning Organization, which deals with transportation funding; the Florida League of Cities Transportation Committee; the Public Transportation Task Force; and the Economic Development Corporation.


Why are you running for office?

I am running for reelection to continue the progress we have made in the city to create a dynamic, vibrant and prosperous city with a great quality of life for all of its residents.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities during your term? 

  1. See that our city remains vibrant, safe and healthy during the current COVID-19 crisis;
  2. Find a place in the city for the Sarasota Orchestra;
  3. Get a transportation plan implemented; and
  4. Bring back the economic health to the community.

How do you think the city is being managed and governed? What would you recommend be done differently?

The city is being managed very well. We have really talented and qualified staff that care about the community and work very hard for the commission and all of our residents.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being excellent, how would you rate the performance of the city manager? 

I would rate him an 8. He does an excellent job and is always looking for innovative and creative ways to make our city better.

What should be done to address the supply of workforce housing?

There are a variety of things that need to be implemented to increase the supply of workforce housing, such as acquiring or looking for property where it can be built, offering incentives for developers to include it in their projects, and changes to zoning that would allow such things as accessory dwelling units.

Do you support creating a special tax-increment financing district near the Bay Park to help finance the $200 million project? If not, how do you think the park renovation should be funded?

I do support the special tax-increment financing district near the Bay Park to help finance the project. 

The Van Wezel Foundation is supporting the development of a new performing arts center at the Bay Park. What’s your view of that, and how do you think a center should be financed?

I am in support of the new performing arts center in the Bay Park. The new center should be financed in a variety of ways just like the Bay Park with philanthropy, state and federal funds or grants, and from the special tax-increment financing district for the Bay Park.

Bobby Jones Golf Club: Do you agree with the commission’s most recent decision to downsize to 27 holes of golf and a 130-acre park? If not, what would you propose differently?

As one of the current commissioners, I voted for the downsizing to 27 holes of golf and a 130-acre park. This way we retain the historic golf course but make the property available to our many other residents who don’t play golf.

Where do you stand on the roundabout at Gulfstream and U.S. 41?

The roundabout at Gulfstream and U.S. 41 will be a major key to easing congestion and traffic coming across the Ringling Bridge and on U.S. 41. In combination with the roundabouts at 10th Street, 14th Street and Fruitville Road, it will create a highly functional roadway for all who travel it.

The STOP group wanted the city to require public review hearings for large development projects in the city instead of administrative reviews by the city staff. What’s your position on that?

Overall, administrative review has worked very well in the downtown. Any problems with it can be corrected with zoning changes. Outside of the downtown, projects are not administratively reviewed. 

Many people have complained about all the condos and apartments being developed with little setbacks. If elected, will you initiate a change to the city’s zoning?

Whether buildings should be setback from the sidewalk depends on where the building is being built. In a downtown, the buildings should be built to the sidewalk with retail on the first floor. In some locations, they can still be built to the sidewalk, but the sidewalks need to be wider. Currently, we are reviewing our setbacks and will be recommending areas where we can and should require a wider setback.

The transportation concerns of the city’s barrier islands don’t always mesh with those of downtown and other portions of the city. What’s the best way to align those competing concerns?

In my view, the best way to align those views is to adopt a multimodal transportation plan as was being proposed. If we can create multiple modes of moving back and forth from the barrier islands to the mainland, the traffic congestion will be lessened. For example, there are more than 2,000 people who work on the barrier islands but live on the mainland. If we could make it convenient for some of them to take a shuttle or trolley, that would eliminate quite a number of cars with just that one change.

What are your suggestions on a new home for the orchestra? 

I really want to be able to find a place in the city for the orchestra. They did an extensive study of locations in the city and found the only location that fit their needs was in Payne Park. There are 2 acres that the city owns adjacent to Payne Park, which could be added to the park. With that addition, I think we should really try to work with them to make that location work. However, if we can make another location viable, I would be in support of that.

If proposed by a commissioner, would you vote in favor of putting a referendum on the ballot to create an elected mayor form of government? If not, why not?

I would vote in favor of putting a referendum on the ballot to create an elected mayor. I am neither for nor against having a mayor/council form of government or what we have now the commission/city manager form of government. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I am not opposed to letting the residents decide what they want. However, this has been voted on five times previously and failed all five times.

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