A fourth candidate has emerged in next year’s City Commission race, as attorney Hagen Brody filed paperwork today at City Hall for the March election.
Brody, a Sarasota native who graduated from Sarasota High School in 2000, said he entered the race because he wanted to give back to the community in which he grew up.
“I was afforded a lot of great opportunities,” Brody said. “This was a great place to grow up, and I wanted to make sure that kids who grew up here would continue to have those same opportunities, if not better.”
Now a partner at the Fowler Law Group, Brody spent more than three years working as a prosecutor in the local state attorney’s office. His departure from that role made headlines earlier this year: The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that Brody resigned after practicing law with a suspended license for several weeks.
That suspension came after Brody did not provide documentation he had taken the number of continuing legal education classes the Florida Bar requires. Brody acknowledged the error, but hoped voters wouldn’t judge him harshly for it.
“It was more of an administrative oversight than it was a substantive suspension of any type,” Brody said. “I took full responsibility for it; I admit it’s a mistake. But I don’t want it to define my candidacy.”
At the same time, Brody said his prosecutorial experience would be a valuable asset if he were elected to serve on the City Commission. He singled out homelessness as one issue he would have particularly trenchant insight regarding.
“What I think I understand better than most, having dealt with this issue a lot, is the complexity of it,” Brody said. “I can bring solutions that are based in my experience, that are viable and multifaceted, to adequately address our concerns.”
He was reluctant to stake out too many positions with his campaign in its infancy, but he also pointed to improving the pedestrian and bicycle experience — particularly downtown — as another issue that was important to him. In general, he said, he was interested in making progress on big-picture issues the city is facing.
“Commissioners need to be active in their role and not passive,” Brody said. “It doesn’t help voting ‘no, no, no, no’ without offering some solutions and working with community leaders and other representatives toward some.”
Brody joins three other candidates in the race for two at-large seats on the board: Martin Hyde, Jennifer Ahearn-Koch and City Commissioner Susan Chapman. The deadline to file for the race is Jan. 13.
The city election is scheduled for March 14. If two candidates do not win a majority of the votes in that election, a run-off will be held May 9 to determine the new commissioners.