From now on, City Commission races will be settled during a different time of the year.
Voters approved a city charter amendment that moves municipal elections from March and May of odd-numbered years to August and November of even-numbered years. The proposal earned support from 63.4% of voters in Tuesday’s election.
The Change the Date Sarasota campaign formed in support of the proposal, arguing the new election cycle would increase voter turnout in city races. Under the terms of the amendment, all commission elections would be settled in November, timed to coincide with state and federal general elections.
Change the Date co-chairwoman Suzanne Atwell was excited following Tuesday’s results. A former city commissioner, Atwell said she hoped the new election dates would encourage participation from a more representative segment of the city’s population compared to March and May elections.
“For too long, I think we’ve had decisions made by a small percentage of the electorate,” Atwell said.
City Commissioner Hagen Brody, another strong advocate for the change, echoed Atwell’s sentiment.
“I’m just extremely happy the city of Sarasota supports inclusion in our elections to this extent,” Brody said.
The change will go into effect during the 2020 election cycle. Sitting commissioners, whose terms were set to expire in 2019 and 2021, will keep their seats for an additional 18 months.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.