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Sarasota Friday, Sep. 25, 2020 2 months ago

Sarasota City Commission District 3: Dan Clermont

Meet the candidate.

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

Name: Dan Clermont

Age: 56

Family: Married. Wife, Yvette and five grown children, Jake, Josh, Emily, Sebastian and Bremen.

Bio: Our five grown children live all around America giving us a great chance to travel and see the country. From Green Bay, Wis., originally, I worked virtually running and building small businesses. Whether it was an embroidery and screen printing company or a laboratory air quality and renovations operation, as a former small business owner I've learned the value of common sense decision making and the importance of prioritizing limited resources. As a resident of Arlington Park, I look to bring my love of community, passion for quality of life and common sense fiscal responsibility to city governance.


Why are you running for office?

There are problems in the city that need to be addressed. Our arts and cultural institutions are fleeing, infrastructure is failing, and we are heading into rough economic waters. That said, I am running not only to lead on these issues, but also I want this community to thrive again. One day we will be past this pandemic, and we will be able to safely come together again, to celebrate and to enjoy one another's company and our immense local talent and community assets. Our city and neighborhoods will thrive again, and I’m running to lead the charge.

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

  • Promoting economic vitality in the face of our economic challenges;
  • Improve our beleaguered water quality and neighborhood infrastructure; and
  • Enhance our arts and cultural assets, a key economic driver for the city of Sarasota.

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

There is clearly a leadership vacuum. Whether it's environmental, redevelopment or planning, we don't have a point of leadership that can bring opposing sides together and establish an agreeable vision for the community. As a commissioner, I’ll give every effort to be that bridge to move our community in the right direction.

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

I have not worked with the man, but that said, many folks from a variety of sectors of the community have expressed frustration and disappointment with the current city manager. The electorate will be indirectly weighing in on his performance this November. If the incumbents are retained, then that speaks well for the direction of the city, but if the citizens want a change, we should listen.

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

In certain areas, where appropriate, we must negotiate changes that incentivize compatible and affordable workforce housing. Our first responders, teachers, nurses, etc., should be able to afford to live in the community they serve. This is not the case today, and we need to address this problem.

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 support the The Bay Project and its diversified approach to funding the project that includes state, federal and private philanthropy to augment the tax-increment financing plan that keeps Sarasota County tax dollars in the city of Sarasota. This plan funds the project without raising taxes on city residents.

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 support the arts and cultural institutions in the city of Sarasota. We have to turn that around here, or we lose a major part of our identity and an economic driver for our city. The Van Wezel is run-down and needs to be replaced, and I support weaving it into The Bay plan as a critical component and funded in the same manner.

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?

Yes. I support improvements to the property and maintaining the property as a combination of golf and park space for generations to come.

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

I am in favor of a consistent traffic system that works year-round. Frankly, I’m more focused on investing in transportation infrastructure improvements in District 3, which have been overlooked for too long.

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?

Complex redevelopment projects should be stringently reviewed by trained professionals for zoning code conformity, not by politicians. That said, we have long-standing substantive issues with our building code that need to finally be addressed with ample public input. Issues that the review process does not, cannot and will not address.

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?

As previously stated, we have long-standing substantive issues with our zoning code that need to finally be addressed. I look to championing zoning changes that make for a better city.

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?

Transportation to the barrier islands is not just important to downtown residents. It’s important to the residents in District 3 as well, which is east of downtown. Our residents should have easy access to the beaches and amenities on the barrier islands. That means scheduling disruptive road improvements off season, communicating improvement schedules to all affected communities and finally incentivising the quickest possible timelines for those improvements. 

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

First and foremost, we must work with the orchestra to find a suitable location in the city. There has been a lack of leadership in keeping cultural assets in the city, and we’ve seen the result. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is breaking ground on a brand new $130 million facility in the county because the city lacked the vision and leadership to keep this institution here. The Players Centre for Performing Arts packed up and left as well. We must reverse this trend before we lose the very institutions that give Sarasota its character and economy.

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?

Yes, because major decisions like that should be decided by the community. Over the course of this campaign, I’ve heard enough input to warrant allowing the voters to decide this issue in a general election.

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