Although the election for two seats on the Sarasota City Commission is more than six months away, one outspoken resident has already jumped into a race that may feature two incumbents.
“I thought after all these years of passing critical comment, it was only fair that I throw my hat in the ring,” said 17-year resident Martin Hyde, a frequent critic of City Commission action — or inaction — on a variety of topics.
Hyde said the move to restore paid parking downtown after pulling out meters five years ago, the rising price tag of the Lift Station 87 project and the city’s payment of legal fees to support Commissioner Susan Chapman’s legal battle with Citizens for Sunshine compelled him to seek office.
The 50-year-old small business owner said the commissioners’ consideration of an ordinance advocating for restricted access to high-capacity weapons as another reason for the early run.
“I don’t have particular need to arm myself,” Hyde said. “But that was an egregious and shocking waste of time.”
Hyde has vowed to forego the $26,000 annual city commissioner salary, and instead donate the sum to homeless services organizations. But Hyde will still have to officially qualify for the race during the week of Jan. 9.
The City Commission election is slated for March 14, with a May 9 run-off if necessary. Commissioners Suzanne Atwell and Chapman’s terms will expire next year.
“I figure most people aren’t going to be terribly interested until after Christmas,” said Hyde, who was born in London. “But I’ve wanted to get out there and talk to people, and I dont think that’s appropriate unless you show your hand.”