Democratic candidates for the State Senate, District 23, Frank Cirillo (left) and Frank Alcock (right) began the discussions by stating their reasons for running. Alcock said he believes the District 23 seat it is the most important in the region.
Democratic candidate for the State Senate, District 23, Frank Cirillo said he is concerned with the rate at which Florida is losing its young people. "It's important we have someone who wants to fight for Florida's future," Cirillo said.
Republican candidate for the State Senate Nora Patterson takes notes during the preceding panels. Patterson participated in the final panel along with her opponents Rick Levine, Ray Pilon and Greg Steube.
Publisher of Observer Media Group Inc. asked State House Republican candidates, District 73, John Hill (far left) and Alex Miller (middle) about their stances on medical marijuana, educational funding and tax breaks on solar products.
Tensions between Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, District 73, Joe Gruters and Steve Vernon, came to a head when Gruters accused Vernon of accepting money from large corporations to finance a mailer advertisement.
Luigi Costello laughs while Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, District 73, Joe Gruters and Steve Vernon, argue about the origins of a mailer advertisement distributed last week. Vernon said he had never seen the mailer before.
(From left to right) Republican candidates for the State Senate, District 23, Rick Levine, Nora Patterson, Ray Pilon and Greg Steube wait for Publisher of Observer Media Group Inc. Emily Walsh to begin the panel.
Nora Patterson cited her diverse career history, combined with her experience on both the city of Sarasota Commission and the Sarasota Commission as credentials for the position of State Senator.
Though discussions at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee's "Primer for the Primary" event were presented as panels, not debates, Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, District 73, seized the opportunity to debate the origins of a mailer advertisement.
Joe Gruters accused his opponent, Steve Vernon, of accepting money from large donors to finance the advertisement, which Vernon claimed he had never seen prior to the panel. The disagreement was met by laughter, cheers and clapping from the audience.
Gruters and Vernon made up the third panel at the event on Saturday sponsored by University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, Observer Media Group Inc. and Manatee Educational TV and held in the Selby Auditorium at USF Sarasota-Manatee.
The pair was preceded by Democratic candidates vying for the coveted District 23 State Senate seat, Frank Alcock and Frank Cirillo, followed by Republicans running in the District 72 House of Representatives race.
The final panel of the day featured Republican candidates running for the District 23 State Senate seat, Rick Levine, Nora Patterson, Ray Pilon and Greg Steube.
Several attendees scribbled notes on their sample ballots as candidates discussed healthcare expansion, teacher shortages and medical marijuana.
Luigi Costello kept track of candidates' positions in a little yellow notebook as he followed the panel schedule on his phone. He said he came to the event because he wasn't satisfied basing his vote on advertisements alone.
"Ads more prefabricated...it's not the true picture of the candidate," Costello said. "Part of voting is instinct and gut feeling."