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."