More than 600 people have signed an online petition.
More than 100 residents congregated at the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota today to protest for governmental integrity.
Dubbed the Integrity 2016 rally, members from a diverse set of community organizations protested both the decisions the county commissioners have made that supported developer requests and Commissioner Christine Robinson’s employment as both executive director for the Argus Foundation and the Board of County Commissioners.
Cathy Antunes, who was one of a core of six people to organize the rally, started an online petition to gain support to ask Robinson to step down from either Argus or the commission. The petition has 645 signatures, and Lourdes Ramirez, vice president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, helped collect more at the rally.
“We’re here representing those 600 neighbors who signed,” Antunes said.
Before the afternoon portion of the commissioner’s board meeting began, Antunes spoke to the crowd, along with Dan Lobeck, a local attorney and president of Control Growth Now, Andy Mele, a local environmental advocate. Other event organizers included Bill Zoller, former president of Citizens for Sensible Growth, and Wade Matthews, vice president of the Better Government Association.
Lobeck and Mele urged the crowd to speak at the meeting’s open to the public time at 1:30.
“What will have an impact is you, taking the time off of work, out of your busy schedule… we stand for integrity, today,” Lobeck said.
The protesters filled the seats of the Commission Chamber and a number of them chose to speak. Public comment lasted more than an hour.
"This may make a difference to the commissioners," Lobeck said. "If not, let's get some new ones."