CHANGE THE DATE
Recent News & Announcements
In November, city voters will see a proposal on their ballots to amend the city charter to change the dates of municipal elections.
The summary of the charter amendment will read as follows:
“Changes City Commission elections from March and May in odd numbered years to August and November in even numbered years to coincide with federal, state and county elections. No candidate shall be elected in the August election. The August election shall occur only when required by the number of qualifying candidates. Otherwise, the November election shall be the only election. Changes Commission appointment of Mayor and Vice Mayor to coincide with election dates.”read more
SARASOTA — Current city commissioners will have their terms extended by nearly two years if Sarasota voters decide this fall to change the dates of city elections.
The commission decided last week to temporarily extend commission terms by 18 months to phase in a potential election date shift should voters in November choose to change the dates of city elections from March and May of odd years to August and November of even years to coincide with federal, state, county and district elections.
Decide the Date, a local campaign that launched a petition last year advocating for the change, collected 4,732 signatures to put the issue before voters on Nov. 6. The referendum will ask voters whether they support moving city elections. The commission will decide on the ballot referendum language at its July 2 meeting.read more
On split votes this week, the Sarasota City Commission approved the inclusion of a referendum on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot that will allow city voters to decide if they want to change the timing of city elections.
Additionally, if the measure passes, the majority of the board members agreed to extend the terms of the three incumbents for 18 months. If voters approve the change, the next election to fill the three district seats would be in November 2020, instead of May 2019, as planned. Additionally, the terms of the two at-large commissioners — which are set to expire in May 2021 — would be extended to November 2022.
Both Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Willie Shaw voted “No” on each of the motions.
The referendum will allow city voters to choose August and November as the months for city elections, instead of March and May. Decide the Date leaders and supporters have pointed to lower voter turnout — especially among Hispanics, African-Americans and young people — during the spring elections.read more
When two Sarasota city commissioners failed this week to fulfill their obligations and support placement of a fundamental question of governance on the November ballot, they epitomized the arrogance that has long prevailed at City Hall regarding elections.
For years, commissioners and majorities of their appointees have opposed asking voters whether to change their city’s charter and voting schedule to coincide with other election cycles — in part to increase public participation.
Valid arguments can be, and have been, made about the status quo — in which city commissioners are elected in “stand-alone” elections conducted during the spring of odd-numbered years — and the proposition to move municipal voting to even-numbered years, when local, state and national races are decided. Voter turnout in the stand-alone elections has generally been low; participation in even-year elections, when high-profile races are on the ballot, has been higher, especially in November.read more
In November, voters will decide whether to move city elections from March and May to August and November. If the referendum passes, the change will be implemented starting with the 2020 election cycle.
On Monday, the City Commission selected a procedure for potentially transitioning to a new election date. The city is holding a November referendum on moving election dates after the Decide the Date group gathered more than 4,700 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.read more
If Sarasota voters approve a shift in the election schedule within the city, sitting commissioners will have 18 months added onto their terms. Leaders on Monday night, whether they favored a switch to November elections or not, voted 3-2 that the best way forward meant adding more than a year to their own terms. “If approved by voters, you should just get on with it,” says City Attorney Robert Fournier. “This would eliminate any spring elections after the change was approved.”
A switch away from elections in spring of odd-numbered years to contests in fall of even-numbered years has long proved contentious in Sarasota, and city commissioners on multiple occasions in recent years declined the chance to put the measure up for vote. But this year, the Decide the Date political committee successfully gathered petitions from 4,732 city voters, 27 percent more than required to put a charter amendment on the ballot for vote. Commissioners have now scheduled a referendum to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.read more
The city is obligated to place a referendum on the November ballot about moving the city’s election dates, but first, it must make a series of decisions related to the potential change.
The referendum will ask voters whether the city should move its elections from March and May of odd-numbered years to August and November of even-numbered years. The Decide the Date campaign gathered more than 4,700 signatures to send the proposal to voters.read more
On June 18, City Commission scheduled to get first look at draft ordinance for November referendum on changing dates of city elections
On June 18, the Sarasota City Commission is scheduled to review the draft of an ordinance that will set in motion a Nov. 6 referendum on whether citizens wish to change the dates of the city elections.
On a June 4 motion by Commissioner Willie Shaw, seconded by Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie, the board accepted the report of representatives of the organization Decide the Date Sarasota, which conducted a petition drive to get the proposed measure on the General Election ballot this year.
Commissioner Hagen Brody offered plaudits to the Decide the Date leaders, saying they “really are doing something good for our community.”
He added that he hopes the initiative will lead to greater voter participation.read more
SARASOTA — Shifting Sarasota’s spring City Commission elections to the fall could temporarily extend commissioners’ terms by more than a year.
The City Commission will have several options to phase in new election dates that could temporarily extend commission terms by 18 months should voters in November choose to change the dates of city elections from March and May of odd years to August and November of even years to coincide with with federal, state, county and district elections. Decide the Date, a local campaign that launched a petition last year advocating for the change, collected 4,732 signatures — 996 more than the required 3,736 signatures — needed to put the issue before voters on Nov. 6. The referendum will ask voters whether they support moving city elections.read more
City Commission to discuss successful petition drive calling for referendum on changing city election cycle
On the evening of June 4, the Sarasota city commissioners are scheduled to make their formal decision about letting citizens decide when future city elections will be conducted.
On May 18, Decide the Date Sarasota — which describes itself as “a grassroots, bipartisan petition campaign” — announced that “it had succeeded in collecting the required number of petitions to ask city voters, on a November referendum ballot, whether they desire to change the date of City Commission elections to coincide with federal, state, county, and district elections.”read more