Mikael Sandstrom says he is “jumping into the deep end” of city government by declaring his candidacy in the March municipal election.
Mikael Sandstrom filed paperwork today at City Hall to become the seventh person in the increasingly crowded race for two at-large seats on the City Commission.
Sandstrom is an executive officer with his parents’ company, Sweden Trade Inc., which operates Olivia Botique on St. Armands Circle. Sandstrom’s family is originally from Sweden, but he moved to Sarasota with them in 1986. He graduated from Sarasota High School in 2002 and earned a degree from University of Central Florida in 2007 in interdisciplinary studies.
Although he’s not a familiar face at City Hall, Sandstrom believes his political experience makes him a qualified candidate to serve on the commission. In 2008, he worked on the presidential campaign of Libertarian candidate Bob Barr.
Soon after, he moved back to Sweden to study political science. He said he’s been exposed to a wide variety of political perspectives, which has put him in a position to fairly evaluate all points of view. He hopes to serve a similar role on the commission.
“I am a mediator, so to speak, given my background,” Sandstrom said
As he kicks off his campaign, some of the ideas he mentioned — the reopening of Midnight Pass and the public effort to reopen Beach Road — involve issues governed by Sarasota County, rather than the city itself. Others include an emphasis on increasing the city’s use of solar energy and establishing safer pedestrian conditions on major thoroughfares like U.S. 41.
He also bemoaned the loss of large events such as Thunder by the Bay and the Sarasota Chalk Festival.
“That’s a loss of cultural activities,” Sandstrom said. “There should be more events; there ought to be more youth outlook on things.”
By and large, though, Sandstrom said he wouldn’t bring many deeply felt positions to his campaign. He positioned himself as an avatar for the interests of voters, willing to listen to all sides before making a decision.
“I’ve always been a free thinker,” he said. “I’ve never limited myself to one type of ideology. I always look at things in a very logical and abstract view. I try to listen to other people’s thoughts, thinking about where they are. That’s why I think I’m the best candidate.”
He said he follows city news closely, but he acknowledged his relative lack of direct experience within city government. Still, he believes he’s well suited to step into the role of city commissioner.
“Some people might say, ‘I’ll be a member of a board here for six months,’ or something like that,” Sandstrom said. “I’m jumping into the deep end here. I’m planning on going full steam ahead.”
The deadline to file for the March 14 election is Jan. 13. If two people do not earn a majority in the first election, a second election will be held May 9 to determine the winning candidates. The victorious commissioners will officially join the board May 12.