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Critical Times Blog 

Helping to keep you informed about what's happening in and around Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Critical Stories: SRQ Commission approves Charter Amendments

April 5th, 2022

On Monday, March 28th, the Sarasota City Commission met to discuss the Charter Review Committee Recommendations. The Committee made 12 recommendations in total, and the commission was to decide which of these would be put on the ballot in an upcoming city-wide election.

The commission discussed one of the most divisive recommendations: the establishment of an elected mayor position.

Brody addressed several comments made by the public that suggested that a strong mayor would open the door to corruption. Despite his comments, Brody did not approve the proposal. Arroyo was only vote in favor of the elected mayor position.

Ever since the controversy surrounding Bobby Jones Park, City residents have been speaking out in support of tighter controls on how the commission decides to sell city property. These wishes manifested in the form of a Charter Recommendation that would require a supermajority or 4-1 vote in order to sell city property.

For such a hotly debated issue online, there was surprisingly little back and forth from the commissioners. Ahearn Koch was the sole supporter of the recommendation.

The commission spent a considerable amount of time discussing a proposal that would increase the city commissioner's salaries by a certain percent every year.

The motion to raise commissioner's salary passed by a 3-2 vote, with Arroyo and Brody dissenting.

For a more in-depth look at their discussion of the Charter Proposals, check out our Wednesday Edition podcast!

Critical Stories: PoetryLife 2022

April 5th, 2022

Book banning and state directives over what materials teachers may bring into the classroom and what books librarians may place on the shelves is a fact of life now in Florida, Tennessee and Texas. The movement is spreading nationally like a vicious virus. It’s time for serious activism to restore freedom of expression to our schools and libraries. Poets can lead the way. 


Those issues will be top of the agenda during PoetryLife 2022.  Each year since 2012 PoetryLife, a project of Bookstore1Sarasota in collaboration with Florida Studio Theatre and Sarasota County Libraries, has been bringing the best of the world’s poets to Sarasota to engage with the community.  At the PoetryLife 2022 virtual event on April 22nd at 8pm, poet activists Carolyn Forché and Pádraig Ó Tuama will offer critical reflections of our present day world. Their discussion will be moderated by award-winning journalist, Charlayne Hunter Gault.

The event is free. The Zoom link will be sent to those who RSVP at

Critical Stories: Upcoming School Board Elections

April 5th, 2022

In August, Sarasota will hold elections for three seats on the School Board. So far, seven candidates have filed to run for the seats. Judging by the total contributions each candidate has, each District race has a clear favorite. In District 1, newcomer Dawnyelle Singleton has been raising funds to challenge incumbent Bridget Ziegler. Running for the District 4 seat being vacated by Shirley Brown, Lauren Kurnov has raised over $110,000 while her opponent Robyn Marinelli has raised $19,000. Vying for the District 5 seat being vacated by Jane Goodwin, Nora Cietek leads the pack in the amount of contributions raised – with Timothy Enos and Gregory Wood trailing by a significant margin.

Public invited to meeting to help shape Public Art Master Plan

March 2nd, 2022

The City’s Office of Public Art will host a virtual meeting next week for the general public to join in the creation of a Public Art Master Plan for Sarasota.

Feedback gathered at the meeting will be incorporated into the City's master plan, which will provide the framework for implementing public art citywide and prioritizing different opportunities for public art that best serve the community.

The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 10. To register and receive a Zoom link, visit or email [email protected]

Important Deadlines for March 8 Special Election

February 20th, 2022

Sarasota residents should be aware of several upcoming deadlines for the March 8th Special Elections:

Early voting begins on Sat., Feb 26 until Sun., Mar 6, 8:30-4:30 daily.

Click here for more information on where to vote early.

Sat., Feb 26, 5 p.m is the deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed.

Voted vote-by-mail ballots must be received in the elections office by Tues., Mar 8, 7 p.m. (election night):

New e-Scooter/Bike Share Program in City of Sarasota

February 8th, 2022

According to a recent post by the City of Sarasota, a new micro-mobility transportation options are coming to the City of Sarasota. The City Commission voted to approve Veo as a vendor to supply the new e-scooter and bikeshare program on January 24th. City staff will be assessing locations for the devices, and the program is expected to fully roll out in early March.

Click here to visit the City's Newsletter

Voter Registration Deadline for the March Election

February 7th, 2022

The March 8 Ballot is now available here.

Below are some important dates and information on the upcoming March 8 Election:

Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, February 7

Early Voting: Saturday, February 26 - Sunday, March 6, 8:30-4:30 daily

Deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed: 5 p.m., Saturday, February 26

Elections Hotline: 941.861.8619

Click here to view changes to polling sites. 

Bobby Jones Golf Club Nature Trails to close for golf course renovation

February 1st, 2022

The Bobby City Golf Club Nature Trails will close to the public starting Tuesday, Feb. 1 to accommodate renovation of the City’s historic municipal golf course.

The 18-hole Donald Ross golf course will be restored, and a new 9-hole adjustable course will be constructed. In addition, a player development center, large driving range, short-game practice area and clubhouse featuring a restaurant will be built.

Celebrating Black History Month

February 1st, 2022

A local university, New College of Florida, is hosting multiple events during Black History Month. It will feature different ways of learning about Black history and culture. Informative talks, movie screenings, music recitals and much more awaits! Visit for more information. 

Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) Meeting

February 1st, 2022

According to a recent notice from the City of Sarasota, two or more City Commissioners may attend the meeting of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (CCNA) on Saturday, February 5, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., this meeting will be held virtually through Zoom.

The agenda will include Chairman Opening Remarks; Police Report; Treasurer Report, Committee Reports; Guest Speakers; The Bay Conservancy, Bill Waddill, One mil referendum for schools, Dan DeLeo, City Open Forum with Deputy City Manager, Pat Robinson; and any other matters that may come before the body.

Zoom Link

Highlighting the Beach Sign Ordinance

January 26th, 2022

In early October, Sarasota County commissioners passed a new ordinance on how people can place signs on their private beaches. The ordinance addressed homeowners who placed signs on their property to keep beachgoers off their private property, by allowing them to place the signs without needing a permit. This means that despite being in a public beach, beachfront owners can erect these signs as a way to “privatize” sections of the beach. 

Click here to learn more:

Looking Ahead: The March 8th, 2022 Ballot

January 25th, 2022

The March 2022 Ballot in Sarasota County is packed with important policies that could change the way that local democracy works in coming years. Critical Times is committed to keeping residents informed about these key policy issues. Check out our latest publication to learn more:


This Week in Local Government (1/24/22)

January 24th, 2022

Monday, January 24th:

The Charter Review Board for the City of Sarasota will hold its meeting on Monday at 6:00PM. The meeting agenda can be found here.

Tuesday, January 25th

The Sarasota County Commission will meet from 9:00AM until 12:00 PM. The meeting agenda can be found here.

The Manatee County School Board will meet at 5:45PM. The meeting agenda can be found here

Wednesday, January 26th

The Sarasota County Commission will hold a regular meeting from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM. The meeting agenda can be found here.

Thursday, January 27th

The Public Art Committee for the City of Sarasota will hold a special meeting at 9:00 AM. The meeting agenda can be found here.

Friday, January 28th

The City of Sarasota’s Independent Police Advisory Panel will hold its regular session at 1:30 PM. The meeting agenda can be found here.

March 2022 Sample Ballot Now Available

January 18th, 2022

The sample ballot for the countywide March 8, 2022, School District Millage Referendum and County Charter Referendum is now available online, Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner announced.

Voters may access the sample ballot in English and Spanish by visiting and clicking on the “March 8 Sample Ballot” link under Important News on the left side of the homepage. 

The Ballot can be accessed directly on the button below:


Sixteen Member Coalition of Sarasota and Manatee Nonprofit Organizations Pledge Support for Public Education

January 18th, 2022

A newly formed coalition of Sarasota and Manatee County nonprofit organizations will kick off a campaign on Tuesday, January 18th, 10:00 AM at a virtual press conference, to bring communities together to support public schools and to address the divisions and vitriol that dominate local school board meetings.

To register for the virtual press conference, visit:

To take the pledge, visit: 

Supervisor of elections invites scholarship applications

January 18th, 2022

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner is accepting applications for a $1,200 scholarship to be awarded by the Florida Supervisors of Elections (FSE) in 2022.

The FSE is offering a total of four scholarships to eligible college/university juniors or seniors who have been a resident of Florida for at least the prior two years and who are registered to vote in the county where applying for the scholarship.

Orioles Announce new Training Schedule

January 16th, 2022

Beginning Saturday, January 15, fans can purchase individual tickets for the Spring Training season. Birdland Members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets in advance as part of a members-only pre-sale on Thursday, January 13. In addition, fans can sign-up for the Sarasota 365 newsletter for pre-sale access on Friday, January 14. All tickets must be purchased online at