Christmas never comes early, but election season can in Sarasota.
Six candidates have filed to run for two City Commission at-large seats in the citywide race so far for the March 2013 election, and Mayor Suzanne Atwell stands alone as the only incumbent running. Commissioner Terry Turner announced earlier this month he will not run.
Atwell kicked off her campaign officially Tuesday by filing her paperwork and hosting an event at Libby's to collect the 25 signatures needed to get her name on the ballot.
"I can't imagine not running," Atwell said.
Atwell has spent four years on the commission and two of those as mayor, which is a chairwoman/chairman post that the commission appoints each year, but Atwell said she embraced that role.
"What I have done as mayor, as ambassador to the city, you just can't measure it," she said. "The hundreds of hundreds of people I have met and you can't tell me that doesn't help in making decisions for the greater good for the city when I'm invited to so many places that otherwise I wouldn't have."
The clinical psychologist lost a 2005 election, but won in 2009 and Atwell said she's up to the daunting task as an incumbent in Sarasota asking people to recycle her in office and not throw her out.
The Bird Key resident said she is running on "extremely proven leadership."
She points her decisions with asking former deciding to eliminate paid parking but making "prudent fiscal decisions."
"We are not broke but we have unfunded liabilities," Atwell said. "We have pension issues. We have a lot of things we have to deal with that I believe, and with the help of my fellow commissioners have been prudent as stewards with all your tax payer money."
Atwell also touched focusing on North Trail overlay and redevelopment, focusing to improve the Rosemary District, and supporting the city's new mobility plan.
She's also confident that new staff will infuse the city and turn the page on what's been a murky year at City Hall.
"We have fresh eyes on the city in the name of Tom Barwin, the new city manager, new [police chief] Bernadette DiPino," she said, adding that the city will have a new finance director, human resources director and already has a new Information Technology director.
"I want to start the revitalization of City Hall," she said.
So far the following candidates in addition to Atwell who filed are:
• Susan Chapman
• Richard Dorfman
• Linda Holland
• The Rev. Kelvin Lumpkin
• Pete Thiesen