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Chapman Touts Endorsements From Sarasota Politicians

Susan Chapman reinforced her campaign issues as several former mayors of Sarasota flanked her side.

City Commission candidate Susan Chapman is battling the tag team of Mayor Suzanne Atwell and candidate Richard Dorfman by bringing out the mayors. 

Chapman appeared with 11 former Sarasota mayors outside the Federal Building on Orange Avenue on Wednesday as part of a press conference to show off her support. The twelfth former Sarasota mayor to lend support, now County Commissioner Nora Patterson, was unable to attend.

Chapman is competing against Atwell and candidate Richard Dorfman in a runoff race on May 14. Atwell and Dorfman hosted a joint press conference on March 26 where former candidates Kelvin Lumpkin and Linda Holland announced their support of Atwell and Dorfman. The top two votegetters earn a spot on the City Commission.

Chapman also outlined her campaign issues. She said she supports the 10-year Plan Against Homelessness, which is struggling to find private money before government entities provide their own money, and Chapman also supports a One-Stop Center.

"I support redirecting the goodwill of people are giving money to panhandlers on the corners and feeding homeless people in the parks to fund a one-stop center that will provide real services for people to get started again with their lives," Chapman said.

The former mayors putting their support behind Chapman are: Fredd Atkins, Elmer Berkel, Dick Clapp, Jerome Dupree, Kelly Kirschner, Bill Kline, Richard Martin, David Merrill, Lou Ann Palmer, Nora Patterson, Jack Gurney and Mollie Cardamone.

"It's a special time in the evolution of this city, and I think Susan has proven her wares in the process of advocating for the people and all of the people of Sarasota," Atkins said. "I don't think at no time that she has left anyone out."

Martin said Chapman isn't a "downtown centric" candidate.

"I think the neighborhood voice is the most important thing to have Susan on the commission for—to speak up for the neighborhood, quality of life and to make sure it gets its fair share and support," Martin said. 

The endorsement of eight mayors for Chapman is the equivalent of a board chairman supporting the candidate as Sarasota's mayors are regular commissioners that are selected by their peers to serve on a yearly basis. Some mayors were only mayor for one year, while others for nearly a decade.

The topic of mayors itself is an election issue as Chapman is in favor of the current government structure with a city manager leading the way, while Mayor Suzanne Atwell and candidate Richard Dorfman support elected mayor forms of government. 

Chapman, speaking with a microphone and amplified speaker on the steps of the Federal Building, also addressed the noise ordinance.

"I think it's very important that we recognize that 85 decibels is the noise level at which hearing loss occurs, and that's not going to be acceptable in our community," Chapman said.

She said the city needs to re-examine information it has on the books and prior acoustic studies completed in the city to figure out what should be done and the city needs to "respect the downtown condominium residents."

"If we cannot create a noise ordinance that respects the rights of the downtown residences, we need to stay where we are," she said. "What we need though is better enforcement of what we have right now."

Richard M. Swier April 11, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Time for a vibrant downtown. We do not need more ordinances we need more freedom so that our young and old residents alike can enjoy music and the arts in an open air environment. More ordinances impinge on the freedoms of individuals, groups and businesses. If you want downtown Sarasota to die on the vine vote Chapman. I am saddened to see Elmer Berkel, Nora Patterson and David Merrill endorse Chapman. I thought they had the interests of the City in mind and would not support those who would take away what attracts the people to downtown Sarasota - the arts including music.
Hawkeye April 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Then tell me Richard, why then are the current noise ordinances in place, why do the current City Commissioners have their underwear in a knot every time Twinkle plays at 'Eat Hear'?! Richard; Twinkle for God's sake?! Why, because all, with the exception of Caragiulo want the current antiquated noise ordinance thrown out the window.
Hawkeye April 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Sarasota has so many wonderful resources available to turn more profits imaginable.. The Ed Smith Stadium, Payne Park.. so many great venues of which we could have amazing outdoor concerts. Can you imagine a three day Reggae Sunsplash music fest at the Ed Smith Stadium.. can you fathom the monetary opportunities there Richard? But wait, we have some money waving residents at the Central Park Condominiums who at election time, send enormous $$$ contributions to the candidates who will support them to keep the music down. And they listen. No Richard, we need a total overhaul of the City Commission.. we need a more vibrant music scene for Sarasota. What we do not need, is for Sarasota to become another Naples. Sarasota has the posibilities to really shine and the time has come to wake Sarasota out of the coma it's been in for years. It's time the Commissioners wake up, listen to the voices of all, and not just those of the residents at Central Park at 5 - Points. Remember Richard, there 'was' a vibrant music scene downtown where Matisons now stands.. but all these high-rise condos \have crushed the music scene. Wait when they bull-doze the Sports Page and build yet, more high rise condos. O'Leary's..look out, your next. Another great Sarasota institution gone, much in the way of the Casey Key Fish House...
RB April 11, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Rich, now that we see Hub petitioning for exceptions to open a bar and nightclub that will be open from morning to all hours of the night in an area surrounded by churches, we understand better your insistence on unlimited outdoor music in places where it would normally be limited to that acceptable to neighbors and passersby. We also note that Hub has not used property owned on or adjacent to Main that it has available to it. Downtown is vibrant already from the efforts of many who have worked for decades to make it so. That is apparent every day and every night of the week. Many of us participated in the compromise that produced the current regulations for outdoor music on the public property owned by the citizens when we opened up the sidewalks to outdoor dining. This does not prohibit the amplified music used for entertainment within the walls of a business, bar, or restaurant where everyone entering wants the level of sound provided and opts for it with their presence. An Ybor City or Bourbon Street leads to dead businesses except those catering to those wanting to revel in other people's faces 'whether they like it or not'. I'm for giving all Sarasotans their liberty to choose how and if they want to 'be entertained'. I want to be able to talk at charming sidewalk restaurants downtown without a honkytonk cacophony sending me looking for a better location elsewhere. These former mayors know what they are doing, they helped us create the city we love—Chapman, yes!
Daniel Herriges April 11, 2013 at 02:32 PM
The real threats to quality of life are a dire lack of good rental housing for working professionals, an unbalanced economy overdependent on tourism and real estate (i.e. low-wage jobs, boom and bust cycles), and the specter of more car-dependent sprawl in outlying areas. The solution must involve allowing density downtown and in other pockets that are ripe for it (Rosemary, North Trail). Sarasota County's population has grown for decades and will keep growing; the city and county alike will benefit if we can accommodate the growth within the city instead of in sprawling subdivisions. "Downtown vs. the neighborhoods" is a false narrative. I live in Chapman's beloved Hudson Bayou neighborhood, and I adore it. But I welcome density and nightlife downtown, because I can walk or ride my bike to those amenities and that vibrancy. No one wants to replace Sarasota's Old Florida neighborhoods – some of the most charming in America – with high rises. Density and mixed use in the urban core are good for the environment, for economic vitality and innovation, for the poor, for professionals, for pedestrians and bicyclists. If done right, density reduces traffic congestion because people are commuting shorter distances and walking to their errands. Chapman is well-intentioned, but the policies she endorses will keep Sarasota a comfortable place to be a wealthy retiree in a luxury condo (or their doctor or attorney) and a challenging place to be, well, anyone else.
Deborah Weatherby April 11, 2013 at 04:35 PM
I will repeat my story, In 1983 I went looking for a home on the West Coast of Florida and went on a road trip to do so. Finally I settled on two towns, Naples and Sarasota. At that time Naples was a sleepy town with not a whole lot of development..but they did not allow live music downtown, so Sarasota was my choice and I have never regretted it. Our downtown residents are Johnny Come Latelies and I believe that what made Sarasota a great town has already been impugned upon. McMansions dot Siesta Key, where historical homes by Rudolph and others went under the developers bulldozers, with little or no resistance from local government. Where once you could see the bay or the canal, only huge edifices exist blocking the view in many cases along entire roadways. And the homes of many of the famous artists that lived here are long gone and forgotten. Of course progress changes the landscape, but many towns have elected to save neighborhoods like Anna Maria Island or even Venice where the downtown areas are much the same as they have always been. Big Money and Crony Capitalism are what happened to Sarasota and its time to stop toadying to those interests. If we had in the past mayhaps downtown Sarasota would not look like a mish mosh of badly built condos, some of which are in foreclosure, pending short sales or empty, making that downtown almost unrecognizable as the great little town that it used to be.
cd April 11, 2013 at 07:32 PM
When twelve former mayors consider it so important for their community to come together to endorse a candidate, it really gets my attention. Knowing them and their diverse backgrounds makes it 'impressive'. Their experience extends over the thirty-seven years of Sarasota history I have witnessed with interest and sometimes participated in. We have a jewel that needs careful tending to make sure that it is not damaged permanently. The fact that Susan Chapman is standing up against the darkest powers of corruption I have seen here in my lifetime prompts me to urge others to join the ranks of these community leaders to make sure that our town is not overtaken by these 'king makers' to feed the profits of a few who could care less about what they leave behind when they are finished reaping their profits and move on. We are weak from economic distress brought on by the collapse of the last speculation wave, we don’t need another. Dorfman is being funded obscenely to beat Chapman and is using rhetoric that asserts that if we do not like their plans, we should leave. Well, I am going to join the mayors. I considered bullet voting for Chapman but am debating whether it is necessary to make sure that Atwell is not turned out by Dorfman as I expect him to attempt now. I have to make up my mind only about whether I will exercise my second vote to prevent him from obtaining the office rather than to assist someone in obtaining a seat. Sad.
Hawkeye April 15, 2013 at 02:02 PM
cd, voting and the election process is so monopolized anymore. Look at the race for the Supervisor of Election seat. Both; Thaxton and Dent are Republicans. If you are not a Republican, you simply were refused to cast a ballot. Matter of fact, I know many who switched parties just in order to vote. This is wrong. Florida needs to have 'open primaries' . But 'not' to be able to cast a vote, is wrong, but much to Dent's liking.
Hawkeye April 15, 2013 at 02:07 PM
RB, the former mayors create a city that 'you' love, unfortunately, there are those (majority) who love outdoor music. You've just been spoiled because all you've been hearing is Twinkle. Wait till we get some Eminem, Zeplin, Who cover bands.. we are going to rock your world.. CD, Michael, you made some excellent - valid points!
Hawkeye April 17, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Richard, Atwell has been on the City Commission how long now.. yet, she's heeding to the voices on the Central Park Condo Owners and the complaints over 'Twinkle' for God's sake.. Richard, if Atwell would only listen to us.. but she fails to.. Can you imagaine if Eminem or 50 cents wanted to perform at Eat Here.. No Richard, Atwell has done nothing to bring a more vibrant music scene downtown in the time she's been a Commissioner/Mayor, so why not give someone else a chance?
RB April 17, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Hawkeye, you are wrong about my view. I like amplified music at special events and concerts. Outdoor is fun for both. Those have to apply for permits and part of the process is the city determining lots of parameters from location to the agreement of neighboring businesses and residents. That is a long standing policy that has worked well. When the city decided to consider allowing outside dining on sidewalks that are public property (which had been banned), a long process of public workshops and meetings resulted in a consensus that amplified music did not fit with sidewalk dining. Many participated in that process. Acoustic music is allowed at sidewalk dining. Our city is vibrant. The type and volume of amplified music inside buildings that cater to people who want to enjoy it in pubs and entertainment venues is not part of the outside music ordinance. That is quite different from what most people think the ordinance is about and they fear that they will not be allowed to enjoy their favorite music and entertainment. Not so. Once I went to eat where Twinki was performing. I was with several other people and none of us could talk to each other because of the volume. We have never gone back for dinner there and have never chosen to dine at Maddisons after the music begins by special exception. That does not mean that I would not go to a concert by Alabama Shakes or to a pub to hear music by local bands. It needs to be by choice not on public sidewalks.
Hawkeye April 17, 2013 at 10:08 PM
RB, you had a choice though. Twinkle performs at special events which are for good causes. When Twinkle performs outside in front of Eat Here, people walking the sidewalks stop and listen. Many; including myself have been drawn to the music of which I stopped by, had a couple drinks and enjoyed the music. RB, you could have gone inside where you would have been able to hold a conversation with your guests. Again, this is Florida, people love to be outside and personaly, I do not think any rights would have been infringed upon to work with one another and have a mutual agreement, to allow amplfied music to be played outdoors and enjoyed by many. It's a 50/50 agreement. But for an hour, to ask those to dine inside, or even upstairs where it was quieter.
Hawkeye April 17, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Again RB, how about if it were a Zepplin or a Who cover band... RB, it's time to draw middle-aged people downtown, and not just cater to the jewlrey clad, coach purse, crowd. You know where I'm getting at. It's 'our' town RB, it's everyones.. not just for those financially well off. It's the poor, the middle class, middle aged. If you think I'm wrong RB, just take a look at the demographics of the city of Sarasota. The median age is 52.. I'd like to see more events for the lower age bracket. Take a look at the recent Daquiri Deck in Venice, it's been packed 7 days per week. A city who'se median age is 62 years of age. RB, the bottom line, you bring venues to downtown, the younger crowd will come.. and so will their tax dollars. Then, you will see a city which is hurting financially, begin to prosper.
Hawkeye April 17, 2013 at 10:11 PM
RB, take a look at the Blase Cafe on Siesta Key.. it's a great place to have a drink and listen to music. Now, the latest pastimes for seniors is to walk around carrying decible level readers.. and you know what RB, 15 years ago, these same very seniors were kicking out the jams..now, that they're older, they complain about Jimmy Buffett music being played too loud. Look at the Casey Key fishhouse.. shut down for two years for playing Bob Marley for Christ's Sake.. ran him out of business for two years. Absolutely incredible.

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