Considerations and Recommendations for Voting in Sarasota, Florida 2020

This morning, a friend asked me if there was a resource that could help her decide who to vote for. Although there are plenty of places that are informing people on HOW to get registered to vote and when and where to do it, it’s challenging to find a resource that actually lays out the pros and cons. Since the U.S. government was kind enough to give me 1200$ to ride out the pandemic they’ve blundered, I figured it was my duty to earn my keep and do some research on the upcoming election. 

These are my considerations and some recommendations on how to vote in the 2020 elections. Obviously, I am not telling you that you should vote the way that I do, but I hope it gives you something to think about, and if you disagree with me, feel free to let me know in the comments. These are not in the order that they are on the ballot. I’m leaving out the City elections, and I saved the big ticket for the end…

Representative in Congress District 16 

  • Vern Buchanan is a car salesman and a real estate developer. He’s built some impressive buildings, but when I once asked him about increasing the foodshed, his answer was myopically focused on the market instead of actually growing food. I appreciate that he puts out polls, but the questions are usually pretty slanted. I would prefer he never make another decision on my behalf.
  • Margaret Good is not Vern Buchanan, and a lot of people will vote for her because of that. She’s much more highly educated than Vern, with a  masters and a law degree. Plus, she’s worked in the agricultural field so I’m sure she’d have a better answer than Vern on how to increase our foodshed.

State Attorney 12th Judicial Circuit 

  • Ed Brodsky has been in this job for 8 years, and I think we need some new blood. 
  • Betsy Young has been working in the office for most of her career, and according to the answers to the questions that were posed to them, I think she has a clearer vision of how to move forward. 

State Senator District 23 

  • From what I”ve seen of Joe Gruters, he seems to be a shill for the developers. I don’t have much respect for where he puts his energy and would prefer he never make any decisions on my behalf. 
  • Katherine Norman is amazing. We’ve met a few times, the last one being at my Poetry NIght event at Elixir Tea House. She’s intelligent, passionate, and driven. Doing all that she does as a single mom, she’s got my respect and admiration. 
  • I”m sure Robert Kaplan is a nice guy, but Katherine Norman is my pick.

State Representative District 72 

  • I don’t know much about Fiona McFarland other than that she seems to be a Trump supporter. That’s all I need to know.
  • Besides, Drake Buckman is the coolest name I’ve heard in awhile. He’s a lawyer with a degree from Stetson, which is cool, but he’s also interested in preserving nature and improving our water quality. This one is a no-brainer.

Charter Review Board District 1 

  • Alexandra Coe was my opponent in the 2014 election. I’ve known her for years and love her to pieces. She’s very involved in local politics and does her own homesteading, so she understands a thing or two about resilience. She’s also a master of reinvention so this may be the perfect gig for her.
  • Walter L. Gilbert III is not Alexandra Coe. 

Charter Review Board District 1 

  • Kennedy Legler and I both went to St. Stephen’s and Stetson University, but I’ve never met him and don’t know much about him other than his family has a long history in Sarasota and that he’s a lawyer.
  • Krista Lohr has been a fixture in the progressive Sarasota movement since I’ve known her. She is a Facebook friend of mine and posts some really information and inspiring posts on clean energy and local issues. 

Charter Review Board District 2 

  • Ray Collins used to be on TV as a local news guy, but now sells real estate and produces videos. He’s really good about getting involved in the community and standing up for injustice.
  • Doreen Dupont is a doctor and very involved in the Climate Change battle. Considering that sea level rise is something we want to prepare for, having science on our side would be an advantage. 

Charter Review Board District 3 

  • David Samuel has already been doing this for a few years.
  • Mary Ellen Palermo can offer a fresh perspective.

Charter Review Board District 4 

  • Scott E. Williams has a background in electrical engineering and currently works for the City of Venice in planning.
  • Wilson Pava is the son of Columbian immigrants and is very active in the community.
  • I’m undecided on this one.

Charter Review Board District 5 

  • Elaine A. Miller wants to conserve the charter as it is.
  • Anthony “Tony” Dunbar wants to see more citizen-based initiatives.

Hospital Board At Large Seat 1 

  • Sharon Wetzler DePeters has actually had a career in healthcare.
  • I don’t know anything about Everett “Bud” Weber.

Hospital Board At Large Seat 2 

  • Tramm Hudson was a banker in his foremost career and is very excited about being a Republican..
  • Laurie J. Kreindler is a filmmaker who specializes in educational films on science. I prefer more science in the hospital. 

Hospital Board At Large Seat 3 

  • I don’t know anything about Britt Riner. 
  • Finolia Idahosa is a Haitian immigrant who started her own home health care company. Impressive.

Hospital Board Central District Seat 1 

  • For her candidate statement on SarasotaVotes.com, Sarah Lodge has a picture of herself, but had nothing to actually say.  
  • I know Vicki Lynn Nighswander personally and she actually has experience in healthcare. 

Shall Justice Carlos G. Muñiz of the Supreme Court be retained in office?

Well, Trump just nominated him to fill Justice Ginsberg’s seat so if Trump wants him making decisions, I probably don’t. I think we should free him up to play golf and consider a new career. According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, he rates 71%, the lowest approval rating of all judges running for reelection. 

Shall Judge Drew Atkinson of the Second District Court of Appeal be retained in office?

According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, he rates 76% so that doesn’t bode well.

Shall Judge Morris Silberman of the Second District Court of Appeal be retained in office?

According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, he rates 90% so he’s doing something right. 

Shall Judge Daniel H. Sleet of the Second District Court of Appeal be retained in office?

According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, he rates 85% so he seems to be carrying his weight. 

Shall Judge Andrea Teves Smith of the Second District Court of Appeal be retained in office?

According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, she rates 82% so she’s passing, but….

Sarasota Soil and Water Conservation District Group 1

  • Steven W. Horton had a long military career and went to work for Boeing.
  • Sean Patton has a career in biology and environmental science, and while I would love to vote for a fellow Steve, I have to go with experience and expertise on this one. 

No. 1 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 2 – Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

This seems pointless unless you’ve been trained to be so afraid of immigrants that you feel the incessant need to protect yourself at all times instead of living out freedom. This is the metaphorical building of a wall that will never hinder anything. Shame on them for wasting our time.  NO

No. 2 Constitutional Amendment Article X, Section 24 – Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

Our minimum wage is currently 8.56$ an hour. That’s pathetic. I think we’d be better served by creating a maximum wage so that anyone who made over a billion dollars would have to let the rest of it circulate through the economy instead of hoarding it like a miscreant.  YES

No. 3 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 5 – All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

Both of the parties are against this so I am all for it! The only way we will ever have an actual democracy, or even a functional republic, is to get rid of the two party system. My ideal would be that we would get rid of all parties altogether and have public servants stand on their character and principles instead of operating like gang members or hyena packs, but one step at a time. YES

No. 4 Constitutional Amendment Article XI, Sections 5 and 7 – Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

Just as I”m not into BIG government, I’m not into time-sucking government either. Personally, I think it’s great that Florida has had 140 amendments since its incorporation. That’s the way an amendable document is supposed to work. It means that the citizens are participating and we’re evolving. Unlike the 27 changes that have been made to the federal constitution, making it the shortest constitution, and one of the oldest governments, on the planet. Speed it up, and let’s get things moving.  NO

No. 5 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 4 and Article XII – Limitations on Homestead Property Tax Assessments; increased portability period to transfer accrued benefit

The people that I know who are calling their property a “homestead” are generally using the money they save from taxes to add in resilience projects like gardens, food forests, solar panels, and other initiatives that are usually more forward-thinking than what the extra taxes would have been spent on.  YES

No. 6 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 6 and Article XII – Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

Support our troops and their families. YES

County Special Referendum – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AD VALOREM (PROPERTY) TAX EXEMPTIONS & City of Sarasota Special Referendum – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AD VALOREM (PROPERTY) TAX EXEMPTIONS

I’m pretty sure these are to help entice new businesses to move into the region. Unless someone convinces me otherwise between now and the time I vote, I think I’m for it. YES

President and Vice President 

For the presidential race, we have five different Third Party candidates this year! It would be cool if we could actually have the freedom to have seven actual parties, but our grand system only actually allows us to have two parties. Nevertheless, since these folks have gone to all of the trouble of pretending to be legitimate, I figured I’d offer my take on them too.

  • Jo Jorgensen & Jeremy “Spike” Cohen – The first of the Third Parties is the Libertarian Party. Their pick this year previously ran as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1996. Since then, she’s gotten a PhD. in Psychology, which she lectures on at Clemson, and an MBA, which has served her pretty well as a software entrepreneur and consultant. She would make a better president than the current White House resident.
  • Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente & Darcy G. Richardson – The Reform Party is the second Third Party. He’s tried to run as a Republican senator in a bunch of states and tried to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. He’s a car salesman (with a number of lots), a currency exchanger, and a property owner who has a lot of assisted living facilities. I think he should stay out of politics. I wouldn’t want him making decisions on my behalf.
  • Gloria La Riva & Sunil Freeman – The Party for Socialism and Liberation is third Third Party so I suppose that makes it the genuine article. This year, they’ve selected La Riva to be their champion. She’s on the ballot in 15 states and is eligible as a write-in in 12 more states. Perhaps the remaining 23 states will come around, but I don’t give them much hope.
  • Howie Hawkins & Angela Nicole Walker – The Green Party is the fourth Third Party. Hawkins was on the ticket in 2016 as Vice President, but only made it on the ballot in Minnesota. He’s replacing Jill Stein this time since she’s already lost twice. After helping to organize the Green Party 1984, he has run as governor a few times. So he’s good at running, but not at getting anywhere.
  • Don Blankenship & William Mohr are running in the fifth Third Party, the Constitution Party. He was the CEO of a coal company and has had public battles with John Oliver and others. He’s probably the only person on this list who would be a worse choice than Donald Trump. 

Realistically, in this election, your freedom is limited to 2 choices. So if you’re among the 4.2% of the population that voted for the Libertarian or Green Parties in 2016 and you’re not sure which of the two candidates is less evil, even though I’m not a journalist, allow me to share my opinion on the matter.

Here is my take on the two candidates.

  • I remember seeing Donald Trump on television when I was a kid and thinking, based on my upbringing in a Christian Republican family, that he was a pompous, arrogant lout with no character traits that I admired. Although he hasn’t changed at all, and continues to be a pompous, arrogant lout, Christianity and the Republican Party have apparently changed a lot. I read somewhere that if he loses, we’ll never hear from him again. I really hope that’s true.
  • During the Democratic Party’s Pageant last year, of the 25 or so people running, Joe Biden was the one that I really didn’t want. However, unfortunately, the Democratic Party isn’t actually a democracy, and the corporate powers that run it chose him anyway. He has moments of creepiness and doofiness, but he actually seems like a nice guy and “the kind you could have a beer with”, if you will. I don’t really trust him, but he hasn’t necessarily done anything to earn my mistrust beyond behaving as a loyal member of the Democratic Party.
  • I trust Donald Trump to continue being a man I don’t trust. He’s an adulterer, cheater, draft-dodger, liar, swindler, tax-evader, and crook. But he is the greatest bullshit artist of this generation, hands down.
  • Joe Biden is not Donald Trump, and that, if nothing else, is why he deserves your vote.

35 Comments

  1. Marla Steiner

    If you are anti-Trump, you must support Joe Biden and not be coy and divisive in your recommendation. I respect your right to your opinion. That said, this is the most important election of our lives and will determine the health, safety and economic well-being of our country. You perpetuate Trump’s BS by perpetuating the idea that elections aren’t fair. Words matter! Choose your impact wisely!

  2. Marsha Oldinski

    If your purpose was to display the Pros and Cons of the individuals based on their ability to perform their job, you failed. You managed to weave into your evaluations, your own opinions. That is the problem with “journalism” today. You cannot present the FACTS without injecting your personal opinions.

    1. Cheryl Nespor

      Marsha is absolutely right about you, Steve. If there’s one thing NOBODY needs more of today it’s another slanted & biased opinion and that’s all you have in your article.

      We get it….you don’t like TRUMP. WHO CARES? I don’t like him much either BUT I’m smart enough & love my country enough to put that all aside and look at his past 4 year record which is excellent! Try it sometime!
      Does ANYONE ever just stick to the facts any more?

      1. Thank you for your feedback, Cheryl. With all of the supposed “facts”, alternative facts, fake news, and outright lies that have been sluiced through the Interwebs as of late, my opinion is all that I have, so that’s all I really have to offer. I apologize if it was insufficient for you, but it’s a great big world out there, and it appears as if you’ve already gathered the information that you need to form an opinion of your own.

        Thank you your loving your country, and I love you as a sister in spite of our disagreements. All the best to you regardless of how things turn out at the end of our practice in democracy. May we continue to improve it through the sharing of ideas.

  3. Nancy Morrison

    While this was the only site where I could find information on the Sarasota Soil and Water District Group 1 contest, I highly recommend the League of Women Voters site, VOTE411.0rg if you want to make informed decisions for yourself.

    1. Scott P.

      I couldn’t find any information on the Sarasota Soil and Water District Group 1 contest on the League of Women Voters site, but presume they are supporting Sean Patton as well.

  4. jim montgomery

    I read your recent article, “Considerations and Recommendations for Voting in Sarasota, Florida 2020” and appreciate your willingness to comment so extensively. Also read (and clapped) your article in Medium, a favorite hangout of mine.

    Thanks for taking the time.

  5. Doran Stark

    I originally went to your site for soil and water conservation candidates. I had made my decisions independently based on my research for the other candidates. Amazingly,we agree 100% on all races, although for some contrasting reasons. Great work, appreciated!!

      1. Cathy

        I did the same thing, I googled “Sarasota soil and water conservation district one” and your link was five down from the the top of the search list. I too had researched all the candidates and had voted the same as your recommendations on them all. Thanks for posting your views and reasoning behind your choices.

  6. Stephen J Schneider

    Thank you Mr McAllister, Your efforts proved most helpful, especially to an overseas voter. Like you, I look with dismay (and anger) upon the Democratic National Committee’s determination to frustrate the real deep structural changes that we so badly need. I am torn between a deep sigh & a vote for this big-donor pawn Biden, or writing in Elizabeth Warren.
    PS. Your reasoning for your recommendations was encouraging & helpfull, too.

      1. Stephen Schneider

        A tardy reply to your link to your thoughts on anarchism and preference-voting. You may be right.
        Obstacles to reform strengthen however, as complexity of reforms increase. Peference-voting is tricky.

        Two presidential elections lost by the Democrats due to concerted write-ins might break the mould, though you seem to think this unrealistic. Maybe a more violent break is required?
        With hindsight, a pity that Reconstruction did not transfer from the states to the Union (Federal) power over civil-status pf citizens, including suffrage.

  7. Tom Chen

    I have a mail in ballot and am concerned about the USPS due to the current Postmaster General. Rather than returning my ballot by mail, I am waiting until October 19th when I can drop it off and not have to rely on the mail service. Your recommendations have given me a great starting point in researching the issues. Thank you for your effort.

  8. Zoraya

    As some else, I searched online the candidates for soil and water conservation and I found your site, my decisions were agree 100% with your article. I’m really appreciate your opinion, was helpful. Thanks.

  9. Roger Scott

    Dear Mr. McAllister,

    Thank you for your succinct assessments of candidates: very useful for an immigrant still struggling to understand how in the world the Americans managed to make such a diabolical dog’s breakfast of such a simple process as electing somebody. I have filed that thought under “America is still a very young country, and, like any teen cannot resist tinkering with something simple to test its limits, usually with disastrous consequences”.

    I didn’t know that there can only be two “official” parties, for example; and there’s a whole lot more I’ll spare you but can’t leave out: billions of dollars expended for no good reason (that I have found) on ads and tweets; Citizens United; a two/four year campaign cycle (compare European); and an electoral college.

    I did find the League of Women Voters and carefully considered your and their recommendations, mostly agreeing with you; I, too, came to your site via the Sarasota Soil and Water Conservation race, for the record.
    Again, very many thanks, and good luck in all you do

  10. Alyssa Marien

    Steve, I think fell about halfway in love with you 😉 while reading your commentary because your opinions on almost everything so closely reflect my own and everything you wrote was so well-said and down-to-earth; although I do disagree with you on Amendments No. 1 and 4, and just a little bit on Joe Biden. Just wanted to add my heartfelt thanks to you for doing this; it was truly enlightening and helpful!! P.S.: I also ended up on your site for information about soil and water conservation candidates.

  11. Luly Davis

    Seriously Steve, I met you back when times were a lot harder, say 9 years ago. Can’t believe you wouldn’t take a harder look at Sleet’s record. Makes me question your recommendations. Up until that point I was strongly considering them.

    “Shall Judge Daniel H. Sleet of the Second District Court of Appeal be retained in office?

    According to a poll of Florida Bar attorneys, he rates 85% so he seems to be carrying his weight.”

    How an attorney rates with his peers, well seems a little like a popularity contest, not a true measure of one’s ability.

    Have you read his determination on

    1. Well, the research I did do was about 4 or 5 hours worth so maybe that wasn’t enough. But honestly, this was more research than I’ve ever done before on whether or not we should retain judges. I didn’t not get into his determinations or dig very deeply into his decisions, but by all means, if you’d like to add your own thoughts, please feel free to. By no means do I consider myself an expert on these issues, which is why this is on my blog and not published by a more reputable publication. Thanks for your feedback. Hopefully, I’ll do better next time around. Happy voting!

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