District 3 Candidates Offer Range Of Priorities

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JUL 27, 2020

At least one new face will join the Sarasota City Commission in April. Without Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie seeking a second term, three candidates have filed for the District 3 seat: attorney Erik Arroyo, Arlington Park resident Dan Clermont and business writer Rob Grant.

Arroya jumped into this race last year, choosing to run for the local office instead of a state House seat. Long involved in local campaigns, he’s running this year for office himself. He feels District 3 had for too long languished without proper attention. “District 3 is working class people, folks who work there and who save up their whole lives to retire there,” he said. “People like my Mom, who worked a bunch of jobs just to make sure we could live in a place like this. And it gets the least amount of funding of all the districts.”

He points to poorly managed roundabouts and other community blight. He sent SRQ a picture of a toppling power poll, held up for the moment with a couple pieces of wood. While poor communities in North Sarasota receive significant amounts of redevelopment investment, and Downtown enjoys attention through city beautification in the city core, Arroyo said south Sarasota and Tamiami Trail often get neglected. That will change if a Commissioner who better knows the district holds office.  “I used to bike these streets,” he said.

Clermont said he’s focused on wastewater improvements and environmental issues with the campaign. Those are matters the city must pay closer attention to, and based on what he’s heard from voters, there’s growing public demand.”People know about the spill in Longboat Key, but they also know there have been many smaller spills, “ he said. “There’s responsibility here. It’s something to take care of here.”

Like Arroyo, Clermont has been on the trail more than a year, and feels good about jumping in early especially since the pandemic limited campaign fundraising and traditional campaigning for so long. The pandemic also made economic priorities a greater need in the district. “People are concerned about COVID-19 but there are really concerned about their personal economics and about the city. I try to bring a positive message.” He would work as a Commissioner to bring activity like a Fresh Market to Midtown Plaza. “With such a negative vibe in the news with politics and the virus, we can forget we live in one of the greatest places in the world."

Grant, a Sarasota High School graduate, has focused on planning issues in the city. Shortly after the city adopted a transportation master plan template, he said its important the input process be examined. The city got things backward, he said, by trying to make a master plan and then planning to adjust its comprehensive plan to comply with it. “The transportation plan should be complying with the comprehensive plan,” he said. “If city staff believe the comprehensive plan need to be changed, that should occur first, and then we can move forward with whatever we want to do next.”

A late entry to the race, Grant has worked to set himself apart on a number of issues. He notes he’s the only candidate vocally opposed to putting another strong mayor charter amendment in front of voters. He praises the current Commission make up as it reads in the charter, with every resident of the city represented by one district commissioner and two at-large commissioners. A strong mayor, he said , would alter the power dynamic of the board in a negative way. He also feels the creation of a mauor would introduce partisan politics into city races. “I’m focused on inclusiveness and unity , and a strong mayor is really about divisiveness.”

 

Photos: Dan Clermont (left), Erik Arroyo (top), Rob Grant (bottom right)

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