Critical Times

"Democracy is not a spectator sport."


How are Sarasota city officials elected?

Posted by on January 26, 2017 at 12:35 AM

City Elections will be held in March in Sarasota, North Port, and Longboat Key. City elections are non-partisan, so all voters regardless of party affiliation can vote in this local election.


​The first Sarasota City Commission election is scheduled for March 14th with a run-off election scheduled for May 9th. If none of the candidates gets a majority of the vote, the top three vote-getters advance to the runoff.


There are two at-large seats up for election. Commissioner Suzanne Atwell holds one seat and Susan Chapman, the other. Suzanne Atwell announced that she would not be running for re-election. Susan Chapman is running, alongside two other candidates, Jennifer Ahearn-Koch and Martin Hyde.


Here's how this election happens: There are a total of five City Commissioners in Sarasota, two are elected at-large, and three are elected from single-member districts. To be elected at-large means everyone in the whole city votes on the same pool of candidates and the top vote-getters become the city commissioners representing the entire city, not just their district. Such elected officials are then identified, for example, as Suzanne Atwell, City Commissioner, At-Large.


The districted commissioners represent the area in which they live. Sarasota is divided into three districts - so candidates run in the district where they live, not citywide. Such an elected official is then identified, for example, as Commissioner Liz Alpert, District Two.


The Mayor and Vice-Mayor are elected each year in April from among the commissioner's members. The City Commission appoints a City Manager, a City Auditor and Clerk and a City Attorney, who are known as "Charter Officials."


The Sarasota City Commission meets the first and third Mondays of each month at City Hall. The public is welcome.

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