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Longboat Key polling sites keep busy

Voters, candidates mingle on election day on the island, as residents prepare to decide on the fate of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.

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  • | 2:07 p.m. March 14, 2017
Voters sign in at Town Hall on election day.
Voters sign in at Town Hall on election day.
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Outside of Town Hall, the polling place for Sarasota County voters on Longboat Key, Frank Morneau seemed confident that the referendum regarding the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property would be rejected.

“You don’t want to judge ahead of time when it comes to politics, but if it’s a ‘yes,’ I’ll eat my hat,” Morneau said, between chatting with voters around noon on election day.

As president of political action committee Preserve Longboat Inc., Morneau has been urging Key residents to vote ‘no’ on the referendum. His efforts appear to be paying off, as Morneau said every voter he had spoken to at the polls had assured him they had voted against the proposed Colony density expansion.

Campaigning at the same location, commission candidate Jim Brown was also feeling optimistic, while noting it was too early to make any judgments.

“I feel confident,” Brown said. “If not, I wouldn’t be running.”

Brown’s opponent, Gene Jaleski, said it was too early to comment on his own race, but he was happy to project that he believed the Colony referendum would lose by a considerable margin.

Jaleski criticized the current Town Commission, considering members too lax on issues like converting residential units to tourism units and increasing property densities.

Also at Town Hall was Jack Daly, who hopes to retain his District 4 seat on the Town Commission against his opponent Larry Grossman.

Daly has run what is perhaps the most visible campaign in both commission elections this year. He’s posted signs up and down the Key and spoken with voters outside of Town Hall during early voting.

“Be there. Talk to people,” Daly said. “You have to do that.”

He mentioned that Grossman hasn’t campaigned similarly, and Daly hopes that the relatively high voter turnout for this election will be beneficial to him in retaining his position.

Daly’s son, Jeff Daly, was campaigning for his father at Longboat Chapel, the polling place for Manatee County voters. With his wife Lily and daughter June by his side, Jeff Daly said he had heard a great deal of positive feedback regarding his father.

“It sounds like people have really enjoyed him the last couple of years,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Madeleine Stewart, who was campaigning outside of the chapel for a ‘no’ vote on the Colony referendum, said a significant majority of voters she had spoken with agreed with her message.

However, she cautioned that it’s too soon to determine anything, especially because of the uncertainty of early voting, which nearly 40% of the electorate participated in, and absentee ballots.

Clerks of elections at both polling places, George Angelo at Sarasota County and Beverly Root at Manatee County, said voter turnout is good this year.

“It’s busy, it’s good,” Angelo said.

“It’s been wonderful,” Root said, adding that turnout appears better than any local election she’s worked in the past five years.

Polls will be open until 7 tonight.


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