Critical Times

"Democracy is not a spectator sport."

Candidates for District 71
Covers Western Manatee County, a small sliver of the City of Sarasota that faces the bay, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Andy Mele (Democrat)

This is Mele’s first political race, but he is no stranger to politics in Florida and elsewhere. Andy, who hails from New York, previously served as executive director of Clearwater, the Hudson River environmental group formed by folk singer Pete Seeger where he was

instrumental in forcing General Electric to remove 300,000 pounds of toxic PCBs from the Hudson River. More recently, he served as Executive Director of Suncoast Waterkeeper where he worked to protect the coastal ecosystem, halt phosphate strip mining and rampant development in Florida.

Andy has a master’s degree in environmental science. His platform focuses on protecting Florida’s future by addressing climate change and promoting the idea that “the environment IS the economy.”

If elected, he will also put forth policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic; develop Health Care for All and expand Medicaid; expand unemployment insurance; raise the minimum wage to $15/hour and ensure strong public schools by ending privatization policies.

Will Robinson (Republican)

Robinson, describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” with a platform based on “commonsense principles.” Robinson, who was born and raised in Manatee County, works

as a partner with the Blalock Walters law firm and serves on the Manatee Chamber of CommerceBoard of Directors. Robinson does not list any issues on his election website. He describes himself as an “economy-focused” legislator. Robinson also describes himself as an environmentalist but has voted against banning plastic straws and sunblock. His donor list includes Mosaic, Big Sugar, BigTobacco, and oil and gas interests. He voted for school vouchers and for corporate income taxreductions. He supported legislation that makes it very difficult to get citizen initiatives on the ballot.

He received an A grade from the Koch-run Americans for Prosperity libertarian advocacy group and a

100% rating from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future which pushes school vouchers and

school choice.

Candidates for District 72:
Covers Northern Sarasota County

Drake Buckman (Democrat)

Buckman pledges, if elected, to be District 72’s voice and advocate. As an attorney, he formed a law firm with his wife in Sarasota. Buckman has lived in Sarasota for three

decades and raised three children, all of whom attended Sarasota public schools. Two of his three children are also attorneys in the family law firm. Buckman decided to run for the Florida HD 72 seat due to his concerns about Red Tide, traffic congestion and keeping Sarasota schools free of for-profit companies and special interests. On the issues, Buckman wants to see “clean, clear water” as “our

environment and the local economy…depends on it.” He will work towards “responsible development” with “well managed” growth. He is especially concerned that “our community’s needs (are) being sacrificed to developer interests.” Buckman calls for investment in infrastructure, including rebuilding and maintaining our essential sewers, power stations and roads. He calls for financially supporting public schools and teachers. He vows to block any attempt to divert tax dollars to private schools. Buchman has raised over $82,000 largely from individual donors.

Fiona McFarland (Republican)

McFarland recently moved to the Manasota area from New York City to launch her career in politics in the District 72 race. MacFarland won ac close three-way Republican primary beating the second runner-up by 1%. She comes from a politically connected family with her mother, K. T. McFarland, having served as President Trump’s deputy national security advisor and earlier as a Fox News national security analyst. After graduating from the Naval Academy and serving eight years in the Navy, McFarland worked as a consultant with McKinsey and Company in global business management. She currently lives in Manatee County, outside of District 72. McFarland does

not list any issues or priorities on her election website but in various videos she calls herself “a principled conservative putting service above self.” She says she will stand with our governor and commander in chief in reopening the economy. McFarland calls for a strong economy and limited government. As of September, McFarland has raised over $254,700, but had spent almost all of it to win the primary.

Candidates for District 73:
District 73 spans from the Manatee-Hillsborough county line south to State Road 72 in Sarasota County, flanking Interstate 75 in Manatee to include Ellenton and other areas and staying east of I-75 in Sarasota County.

David Fairey (Democrat)
As the father of four children, Fairey was inspired to get more involved in the public arena after the school shooting in Newtown, CT.  He got involved with Moms Demand Action and is a steadfast supporter of sensible gun safety legislation. He serves as CFO for a large tech company and is a CPA. Born with an uncorrectable visual impairment, Fairey learned early the painful lessons of what it means to be treated unequally and to be thought of as less-than or incapable because of an immutable and innate part of yourself. Equity and fairness for all are big issues for him. Fairey believes healthcare is a human right and he will work to advance the cause of universal healthcare at the state level. He will push for state action on climate change and supports full funding for public education. Fairey supports structural economic reform including but not limited to living wages, affordable housing, universal childcare, fair and equal pay, union protections, and unemployment. He has raised over $27,000 and has stated a willingness to self-fund his campaign if needed.

Tommy Gregory (Republican)

Gregory, 46, served in the Air Force for 20 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel before

retiring from the military in 2014 and joining the Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen law firm.

Since moving to the area, he has served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, St. Martha

Catholic School and the Sarasota Republican Club. His plan for Florida includes banning sanctuary

cities and enforcing illegal immigration laws, fighting crime to keep our kids and schools safe, creating

jobs by cutting taxes and reducing regulation, keeping our beaches and coasts clean and pristine, and protecting our constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms and protecting the unborn. Gregory continues to enjoy support from high-dollar donors and PACs, raising over $137,000 to fund his campaign. Among others, he has collected $1,000 checks from the Committee of Florida Agents, The Doctors Company Florida PAC, Comcast, Frontier, Florida Beer Wholesalers, Neal Land and Neighborhoods, Inc., and FCCI Insurance Group.

Candidates District 74:
District 74 encompasses the communities of Nokomis, Venice, North Port and Englewood in southern Sarasota County, and eastern Sarasota County south of Clark Road.

James Buchanan (Republican)

The son of Vern Buchanan, James has been a real estate agent since 2006, and a broker and small business owner in Sarasota County since 2009. He has served in the Florida House of Representatives for the previous 2 years. Buchanan holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University with a Double Major in Finance and Entrepreneurship. His priority issues are keeping taxes low, preserving

water quality, supporting first responders and fighting for small business. He is a supporter of charter schools. As of September, he had raised over $127,000 from PACs and large dollar contributions.

Lisa Stortstrom (Democrat)

Stortstrom is a former Montessori teacher and has a Master’s Degree in Intensive Special Needs with

a focus on Autism Spectrum. She currently teaches yoga to people with special needs. She is

passionate about advocating for those with disabilities and for protecting the environment. She has

signed on to the Florida Climate and Economic Defense Initiative and pledges to introduce legislation

that proposes actual plans to protect our environment and fortify our economy with green energy.

She supports increasing the minimum wage and will work to expand access to health care. Stortstrom

has raised a little over $6300 mainly from small dollar contributors.

DISTRICT 71 Candidate Websites:

Andy Mele:

Will Robinson:

DISTRICT 72 Candidate Websites:

Drake Buckman:

Fiona McFarland:

DISTRICT 73 Candidate Websites:

David Fairey:

Tommy Gregory:

DISTRICT 74 Candidate Websites:

James Buchanan:

Lisa Sortstrom: