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Sarasota Friday, Sep. 25, 2020 8 months ago

Sarasota County Commission District 1: Mike Moran

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Meet the candidate.

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

Name: Mike Moran

Age: 51

Family: Lori Moran (Married 27 years) (Teen Court, Chief Operating Officer); Laina Moran (Age 23 – University of Florida graduate); Mikey Moran (Age 21 – University of Florida senior)

Bio: Mike Moran is a common sense, straight-talking conservative. He is a respected leader in the Florida business community and is focused on making government accountable to the taxpayers. He was elected countywide in 2016 to the Sarasota County Commission and is currently the chairman of the board.

Moran is not a career politician. He is a  businessman who knows the struggles of meeting a payroll, paying taxes and dealing with governmental red tape. He is very clear that his ultimate responsibility is to represent “the people." He feels this is a concept that far too many elected officials have forgotten.

After selling his payroll and insurance firm in Michigan, Moran moved to Sarasota in 2002 with his wife of over 27 years, Lori, and their two children, Laina and Mike Jr. Upon selling their business, Mike and Lori looked all over the nation for a place to raise their children. They selected Sarasota to call home.

Moran is committed to keeping Sarasota a world-class community to raise a family, start a business or have a fulfilling retirement — all with as little governmental intrusion as possible.

In addition to Moran’s extensive business experience, he has a bachelor’s degree in business and insurance from Michigan State University. Moran is also a certified insurance counselor. His experience and formal education make him well suited to deal with the financial dynamics facing Sarasota taxpayers. Moran has been in the insurance industry for more than 34 years.

Moran will create an environment that encourages our youthful, talented citizens to remain in Sarasota. Moran will remain a tireless advocate for the senior members of our community and protecting them during our times of transition will be paramount. In addition, Moran recognizes the importance of creating a balance between protecting Sarasota’s gorgeous environmental landscape and developing our business community. A healthy balance is critical for the long-term success of our community.

 

Why are you running for office?

Since day one I have been focused on creating careers, not jobs, in Sarasota County. It is imperative that we protect our way of life in Sarasota County by having affordable housing for the youth in our community, seniors trying to enjoy an active retirement, as well as, our teachers, nurses and first responders. The best way for residents to have affordable housing is to have a stable career that brings meaningful income into their household.

What are three policy priorities you hope to accomplish, if elected?

  • Finish the unprecedented commitment to water and sewer infrastructure that we started. This board has appropriated record amounts of resources to upgrade our water/sewer system. I look forward to finishing these projects.
  • Finish the north/south road grid. We have had huge success securing land rights and developing Lorraine Road to complete an alternative route to Interstate 75 that runs from Manatee County to south Sarasota.
  • Continue to have top rankings by all major rating agencies for our bonds and financial strength. We have made strong fiscal decisions, and secured significant reserves, which has put us in a position for a strong recovery while enduring COVID-19.

What role should the county play in helping increase the amount of workforce, affordable housing? What’s your position on allowing developers to increase density if they build and sell a certain percentage of units at below-market rates?

This conversation has become very distorted over time. The “government” does not create any affordable housing. In addition, if the “government” forces a developer to set fixed pricing for houses, the minute the homeowner sells the dwelling, the new buyer will purchase the home at “market” rate. Some would argue that this creates a false market, and the “government” intervention actually makes the problem worse. Density is a way to attract developers to build a specific type of housing, but it all depends on the parcel of land and surrounding communities.

Representatives of the Bay Park Conservancy appear to want to create a tax-increment financing district surrounding the park to help fund the park’s improvements. What’s your position on that?

I have continued to vote no on this tax-increment financing. In my mind, the numbers simply do not work. I voted no on this tax method prior to COVID-19. Since the pandemic, my concerns have grown stronger.

If the city decides to develop a new performing arts center in Bay Park, what would be your position if the city asks the county to help fund it with tax dollars?

It is important that any decision that comes before the County Commission have a formal process. Both sides of the topic need to be heard with healthy debate. Although I am open to discussion on the matter, I can assure you I would challenge the numbers showing a “return on investment” to the taxpayers of Sarasota County.

According to the county’s preliminary budget, SCAT, the county’s bus service, generates $85,700 a year in “user charges,” while the entire SCAT system costs $31 million a year to operate. What’s your view of SCAT? 

This is an excellent question. Since being elected to the Sarasota County Commission, I have focused on two major categories related to our budget: SCAT and our health care program. In our last budget hearing, it was reported that we saved almost $7 million in one quarter given the health care changes I have been promoting. Related to SCAT, we have had multiple workshops on the matter, including securing national consultants. A completely new “mobility” structure, with plans to integrate with Uber-type transportation, is planned to start in the first quarter of 2021. Very exciting times.

In what areas of county government spending do you think the county could cut expenses without hurting services?

As previously mentioned, the “health care” program at the county has been a priority since being elected. I have been an insurance agent for more than 30 years. Health care is a massive expense for Sarasota County. I immediately focused on this expenditure, which gave me an opportunity to make a huge impact. As I mentioned, in our last budget hearing it was reported that we saved almost $7 million in one quarter given the health care changes I have been promoting.

What should the county’s transportation priorities look like in the next 10 years?

We have a very comprehensive “transportation” plan that goes well beyond 10 years. This plan is developed closely with Florida Department of Transportation, as well as the Metropolitan Planning Organization. I have been putting healthy pressure on the state of Florida to make technology a major focus in the coming years related to transportation. It has been about 13 years since the iPhone was released. In the next 13 years, “technology” will have a profound impact on transportation, light signaling, routing and crash avoidance. We must focus and invest in this technology.

Red tide and water quality were huge issues in 2018, resulting in a countywide summit on the topic. What as a county should be done moving forward on that environmental issue?

This board has made appropriations and significant commitments to water quality. Below, please find just a few examples:

  • Expanding Bee Ridge Treatment facility to 18 million gallons a day;
  • Implemented a “Fats, Oils, & Greases” Ordinance;
  • Committed $180 million to the first phase of moving to an Advanced Wastewater Treatment facility;
  • Aggressive efforts to address septic tanks and get them connected to county sewer lines;
  • Gained state approval to drill four aquifer recharge wells at Bee Ridge facility;
  • Connected our Bee Ridge facility to the Atlantic deep well and central county facility deep well discharge; and
  • We have received national awards related to our water supply. Including anticipated growth, we have a 20 years supply in reserve. In addition, we have a plan to expand to a 50-year supply in 10 years that has already been permitted.

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