Saturday, April 27, 2019

“Transparent” redistricting of Sarasota County in 2019?

The Sarasota County Commission is currently assessing the need to redistrict our county in 2019---which could change the boundaries of our five voting districts BEFORE the scheduled 2020 US Census.  If you think that citizens should play an active role in this process, contact our County Commissioners now!
Source: Sarasota County

Last November, voters in Sarasota County sent our County Commission a clear message. In all five Districts, voters overwhelmingly approved more direct and accountable representation from our County Commission. Starting in 2020, each Commissioner will be elected solely by the voters in his/her Voting District -- a major change from the past countywide voting system.

But in the meantime, our current County Commission is considering making changes to our Voting District boundaries this year--starting in early May. Commissioners (including two up for re-election--Mike Moran/Dist. 1, Nancy Detert/Dist. 3, and one departing due to term limits--Charles Hines/Dist. 5)  would orchestrate this process themselves rather than taking the course recommended by the League of Women Voters/Sarasota County: Empanel an independent, expert committee of citizens who are not seeking public office.  

The LWV also stated that when "diverse stakeholders are left out of the redistricting process, it’s more likely that elected officials will choose their voters than voters will be empowered to choose their elected officials."  Link

At minimum, any County-level redistricting process must be fully transparent and should include input and feedback from county residents from start to finish.  In advance of Commission discussions or decisions, residents should know key background information--including: 
·  What universal criteria determine the need to redistrict---FL Statutes, etc? 
·  Which standardized data sources will be used to determine current population (US Census, other?) 
·  What methods and software will be used to "balance" each district?  
Such questions have been posed to Sarasota County, but not answered. Waiting until County staff delivers a report to the Commission in early May is not adequate or appropriate. Residents and voters should not be passive bystanders in this process. We need answers to key questions before the May meeting, preferably at a public, interactive workshop. 

A news report on the County Commission meeting on April 9th indicated that Commissioner Detert proposes that Commissioners "make this the most open, transparent and, frankly, televised exercise that the county's ever been through." "...Additionally, Detert said, “I think we all need to work on restoring the average person’s faith in their own government."

Please act now. Words and promises alone mean little. Send a message to our five Commissioners at We the People must play a key and active role in the County redistricting process. Your vote is your voice.  

Kindra Muntz, President, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections

Bill Zoller, Past President, Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Assoc. (CONA/Sarasota)

Pat Rounds, Past Sec'y, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections
Related links:

The Board of Sarasota County Commissioners may be reached at
  Michael A. Moran, Commissioner District 1
Christian Ziegler, Commissioner District 2 
Nancy C. Detert, Commsioner District 3
 Alan Maio, Commissioner District 4
Charles D. Hines, Commissioner District 5
Michael A. Moran
District 1 (Vice Chair)
Christian Ziegler
Nancy C. Detert
Alan Maio
District 4 
District 5 (Chair)


  1. How will you be determining the district lines? Will it be by an independent, non-partisan group? Can we be assured that the districts will be somewhat symmetric with straight lines? Will there be a chance for citizen comments before the final vote?