Patrick Gannon, a member of the city’s Planning Board and president of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association, filed paperwork today to enter the race for two at-large seats on the City Commission.
Gannon, who has lived in Sarasota for 10 years, is positioning himself as a moderate voice interested in achieving tangible growth. He said his decision came after other people encouraged him to run, citing a perceived need for a voice like his on the commission.
“The lack of transparency and effective solutions has been troubling to myself and to a lot of people,” Gannon said. “Through their urging, they said, ‘We need people who can provide balanced leadership and practical solutions.’”
Gannon named growth, transportation, homelessness and the redevelopment of the bayfront as a few of the major issues he hoped to address if he were elected to the commission. Above all, he said he could provide a balanced perspective on city affairs.
“The key thing I bring to the table is a proven track record of working together with neighborhood residents, businesses and city staff,” Gannon said.
Gannon has a similar resume to another candidate in the race, Jennifer Ahearn-Koch. Both candidates served on the Planning Board and as leader of a neighborhood association. Although both candidates are focusing on making it easier for residents to engage with local issues, Gannon distanced himself from STOP, a resident activist group that includes Ahearn-Koch on its steering committee.
STOP has advocated for an overhaul of the city’s transportation policies and the elimination of the administrative approval process for certain proposed developments. Gannon suggested there is a need to change the existing procedures, but said less significant changes could yield more effective results.
When it came to administrative approval, for example, Gannon suggested a system in which residents could request a public workshop with a developer before city staff ultimately decided whether a project met the standards outlined in the zoning code.
“I believe we can get community involvement and visibility and still retain the benefits of the administrative review process,” Gannon said.
Gannon is the sixth candidate to enter the race. The rest of the field includes Ahearn-Koch, incumbent Commissioner Susan Chapman, former Mayor Fredd Atkins, attorney Hagen Brody and local business owner Martin Hyde. The other incumbent, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell, declined to run for re-election.
The deadline to file for the March 14 election is Jan. 13. If two candidates do not earn a majority in that election, a run-off will be held May 9. The new commissioners will take office May 12.