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Sarasota voting kicks off with confrontation

Jen Ahearn-Koch, Hagen Brody and Martin Hyde are vying for two seats on the Sarasota City Commission.

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  • | 10:00 a.m. May 9, 2017
  • Sarasota
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A candidate for Sarasota City Commission called a former city commissioner “nasty” and accused her of libel this morning, as election day kicked off at precinct 209.

The confrontation between candidate Martin Hyde and former Mayor Mollie Cardamone came as she finished voting, and ended after her husband Ronald told Hyde not to speak with her again. After the incident, Hyde accused Cardamone of spreading inaccuracies about him to influence the election, while Cardamone — a supporter of candidate Jen Ahearn-Koch — said the exchange was indicative of questions about his temperament.

While at least a half-dozen voters at precinct 209 near Laurel Park acknowledged the tense tenor of the commission race, they cited specific issues among reasons they turned out to vote. 

“I was stuck at Oak Street just trying to get here,” said John Everett, who moved from Miami in 1984 to attend New College. He said as a downtown resident, he doesn’t want to see Sarasota turn into South Florida, and hoped to see development reined in due to traffic issues.

Torn between Hyde and Ahearn-Koch, Everett said he sympathized with concerns about over-development but was also concerned about comments the latter candidate made about Sarasota becoming a sanctuary city.

“I feel like there has definitely been more awareness about this election than previous elections,” said 28-year-old Kelsey Alholm, who said she is supporting candidate Hagen Brody because he would bring a younger voice to the commission.

Casey Costello, who has been registered to vote in the city for 18 years, cast her first ballot in a local election. She cited the outcome of the national election in her decision to finally get involved in a city race.

At roughly 13%, early voting and vote-by-mail turnout so far has outpaced that of the March election, during which 6% of voters cast ballots during the early voting period. So far, overall voter turnout has reached 17.9% as of 1 p.m., with 1,720 registered voters visiting the polls on election day.

In March, voter turnout was 19.1%.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Click here for more information about the election.


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