Winners of Nov. 3 election sworn into office at City Hall
Following the Nov. 3 General Election, Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody has won the support of his colleagues to lead the community as mayor, while newly elected District 3 Commissioner Erik “E” Arroyo has been elected vice mayor.
During a Nov. 6 statutory commission meeting, outgoing Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch nominated Commissioner Liz Alpert, who had won re-election, as mayor. However, Ahearn-Koch was the only person to vote for Alpert. After new District 1 Commissioner Kyle Scott Battie nominated Brody, and Arroyo seconded it, Alpert and Ahearn-Koch both voted for Brody.
Before that vote, Arroyo said, “If we’re going to move forward as a city … we have to forgive past transgressions … commissioners to commissioners and from some commissioners to me, even. And in that effort, I’m going to second Mr. Battie’s motion.”
Brody nominated Arroyo for vice mayor, and Battie seconded it.
Battie took his oath of office and participated in the meeting from a separate room. Both the Sarasota Observer and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that he learned from a rapid test that he took just before the meeting that he had COVID-19, which prompted his isolation.
Alpert and Arroyo took their oaths in the Commission Chambers at City Hall.
During his formal remarks, Brody thanked Ahearn-Koch for “all the work that [she has] done this year,” noting the challenges she handled, especially after the novel coronavirus pandemic began. “There were some very scary moments,” Brody told Ahearn-Koch, “and I just want to say you handled it beautifully, gracefully. So I think the community and this commission really owes you a debt of gratitude for that.”
In a recorded State of the City address, Ahearn-Koch called the pandemic “a challenge we never could have anticipated … that temporarily brought our world to a halt.” She pointed out that more than 16,700 people had died in Florida, including 340 in Sarasota County, as of when she recorded the address. “We must acknowledge and honor their legacy,” Ahearn-Koch continued. “As commissioners, we swear an oath to protect the health, safety and welfare of this community. We live by that oath, and we let it guide us in our decision making.”
As a result, she noted, the city was one of the first in the state to declare a State of Public Health Emergency; that happened on March 13.
Turning to the months ahead, Brody continued, “I think that the city recognizes the impact of this election and, really, the folks that the community has sent here, I couldn’t be happier to be working with [them] …”
Elections do cause conflict in the community, Brody added. “And just like this country and this state,” he continued, “it is time to heal, to come together and to get things done. We represent every single person in this community, whether they are old enough to vote for us, whether they didn’t vote for us or support us or not. And it’s our job to work with everyone. I have no doubt that this commission will move forward [in] that vein … with that mandate of collaboration.”
Arroyo offered a quote from a Florida Sheriff in the 1950s: “‘I have no friends to reward and I have no enemies to punish.”
Arroyo added, “And that’s how I’d like to govern.’”
He also pointed out that he was the first in his family to graduate from high school. His alma mater is Riverview in Sarasota, he added.
He was born when his mother was 16, Arroyo continued. “The chances of someone coming to America, learning the language, coming from a single-parent household without minimal education, from extreme poverty — my chances of being here, regardless of this political election, [were] less than 1%. So that’s why, [with] this commission, my legacy, our legacy, will be to help the next generation of people in Sarasota.”
During the Nov. 3 General Election, Arroyo defeated Daniel A. Clermont, taking 51.26% of the vote, according to the unofficial totals posted by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office. Clermont won 41.64% of the votes during the Aug. 18 Primary for the District 3 seat, which Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie chose not to seek again. Arroyo had 30.43% of the Aug. 18 votes, followed by Rob Grant, with 27.93%.
Altogether, 3,312 votes were cast in that Primary contest.
Alpert won re-election with 51.6% of the votes cast in the District 2 race, beating former City Commissioner Terry Turner.
The results of the Aug. 18 Primary Election put Alpert on top in the District 2 contest; she bested five competitors with 29.13% of the 6,475 votes cast.
Finally, Battie defeated incumbent Commissioner Willie Shaw, who first was elected in 2011. Battie captured 53.84% of the votes in that race on Nov. 3, according to the unofficial totals.
Because the District 1 race had only two candidates, that election was placed on the Nov. 3 ballot, according to guidelines for the shift of the city elections from a spring schedule to an August/November timeline.
During his Nov. 6 remarks, Battie said, “I just want to be as great a commissioner as I possibly can be. And if I can do half the work that … my predecessor did before me, then I think I will serve the community well.”
In his parting comments, Shaw expressed his thanks to city residents “for allowing me to serve you as mayor three times, vice mayor twice, [and to] represent you all on many different levels.”
In his Nov. 6 newsletter, City Manager Tom Barwin wrote that city staff already had begun “an in-depth orientation with the new Commissioners,” beginning with state’s public records and open meetings laws, along with meeting procedures, “and the responsibilities and inner workings of the 10+ City departments and divisions.”