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New Longboat Key commissioner sworn in

Get to know Sarah Karon, the newly appointed District 5 Longboat Key commissioner.

Deputy Town Clerk Savannah Cobb (right) swears in Sarah Karon to the District 5 commission seat.
Deputy Town Clerk Savannah Cobb (right) swears in Sarah Karon to the District 5 commission seat.
Photo by Carter Weinhofer
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Sarah Karon is the new District 5 town commissioner for Longboat Key. 

On Jan. 22, the other town commissioners were tasked with appointing a new commissioner to replace the vacancy left by Debbie Murphy. 

Six applicants threw their hats in the ring by the Jan. 12 application deadline, and the already-seated commissioners were able to correspond with all applicants and review their resumes prior to making the decision. 

The Jan. 22 special meeting began with the floor open for applicants to give a statement in front of the commissioners, followed by each commissioner saying a name for recommendation. 

It was unanimous. 

Once the official vote was taken, Karon was sworn in immediately and took her new seat among the six other commissioners. 

Now, Karon will serve a 14-month term until March 2025, when a general election will be held. The person elected during the general election will serve the remainder of what would have been Murphy’s original term, until March 2026. 

After a brief lunch break, Karon went right into her first Town Commission meeting as District 5 commissioner. 

Here’s what she had to say her the new role. 

What led you to the decision to seek the District 5 commission seat? 

I had been thinking about it for a couple years, I was thinking about it when the seat opened up and felt that the timing was wrong because of other commitments I had in my life. And then when the seat became vacant, I thought this would be a really good chance to get involved and see if I’m a good fit for this work. 

Whenever I do anything, I’m serious about it and I’m committed to it, so I took some time to think about it. I decided that I not only can make the time for it, but I really want to do it. It’s interesting for me, it’s a bit of a stretch for me in terms of working in a new area of the community. Once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

What are some issues you’re looking forward to tackling with the commission? 

I’ll be happy to be involved in enhancing the amenities for all of us who live on the island. When I watch what’s been going on with our parks, with Whitney Plaza, when I look at Bayfront Park. Those things that bring us all out and enhance our well-being — it’ll be wonderful to be a part of those. 

I think helping to manage growth and keep the vibe of the town the way people love it to be: the spirit of the town, the feeling of the town. It’s always going to be part of the work. I’m concerned about how to accommodate more consistent projects having to do with storm surge and beach erosion, and seawalls needing reinforcement. 

Being on the commission is just being on the team that works with the community to help put these things in place. It’s the staff that does all the work and all the research to a great extent. But to be a part of that, I think, will be really satisfying. 

What is Longboat Key all about to you? 

It’s about a lot of things to a lot of people. For me personally, the nature is the most important thing to me that made me fall in love with this island. It’s why I love living on the north end, it’s a little quieter. 

The fact that this island wasn’t just completely overdeveloped like so many places are. Whenever you’re living on a beautiful body of water, it’s really hard to keep things low-key. And there is a certain low-key aspect to this island. 

It just feels like people know how to be good neighbors to each other, and it’s not all about status and ego here. It felt welcoming, and it also feels principled, in the way this town is set up to exist. We’re trying to stay a small town in the ways that are still possible for us to do that. And we feel like a hometown. 

How would you describe your leadership style? 

Servant leadership. Leading in service to a cause that is the greater good of a common good. Your job, then, is to bring as many people together across many different points of view, different needs, different philosophies, toward one collective goal. 

You need to stay open, you need to stay respectful and you need to be collaborative. It is a kind of leadership, but you’re not up on a pedestal. You’re just part of the group and holding the group together in a sort of way. 

What are you most excited for in this new venture? 

Learning. I love to learn new things. Municipal government is something I think will be fascinating to be involved with from the inside. Even just today, it gave me a lot of reason to feel appreciative and curious and enthusiastic.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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