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.