Sarasota activist comments on election

11/07/07 Mitch E. Perry
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In Sarasota, a number of progressive initiatives won at the polls last night.

Voters rejected funding for a stadium project to keep the Cincinati Reds spring training home in Sarasota there for another 30 years. The $16-million referendum would have helped fund the $45-million plan to refurbish Ed Smith Stadium.

Originally, there were plans for a new $54-million park that would replace Ed Smith. But that quickly lost political support; ultimately, so did the scaled down plan to refurnish Ed Smith.

The Reds lease lasts only though next year, and the team now says it will begin searching for a new home. Executives for the Reds as well as Mayor Lou Ann Palmer agree that the Reds are probably gone.

Mayor Palmer was at a Florida League of Cities meeting today and unavailable for comment.

WMNF also attempted to speak to Jeff Maultsby, director of Florida operations for the Reds. He did not return our call.

In the city and county of Sarasota last night, voters easily approved a continuation of the county's 1-percent sales tax, a fund that will bring in $1-billion for new schools, roads and parks to counter pressures from growth.

Voters in the city of Sarasota also backed a plan to limit campaign donations in City Commission races to $200 per person and to ban donations from businesses.

Other voting changes made by city of Sarasota residents include a rule making election results official three days after an election, to allow the counting of provisional ballots -- such as ballots received from military personnel based overseas; and giving emergency management powers to the city manager and appointing a committee to review the city charter.

Sarasota is the latest municipality to support Instant Run-Off Voting, with 78% of the voters supporting the law which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If one candidate does not win a majority vote, then the second choices are tabulated.

Anthony Lorenzo, chairperson for the Coalition on Instant Run-Off Voting in Florida, says right now its difficult to say when IRV will actually take place in the city.

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