To the editor:
The 2018 primary election that will conclude on Aug. 28 will determine who will represent two political parties in the general election that will be held in November, and it also will be the final election in many nonpartisan races.
The primary may eliminate candidates you support unless they prevail, so this is a crucial election in which voters need to make their selections carefully and be sure that they exercise their opportunity wisely to participate in the selection of candidates.
Many are expressing concern about candidates who are shunning forums and failing to submit to dialogue with the voters. This marketing strategy has been used deliberately in the last two cycles now — by candidates who seek election without having to address issues raised in public dialogue. A one-way commercial marketing strategy may be fine for the sale of detergents, but it is not how our election process is intended to work. One readily may discard a detergent found to be undesirable and replace it rather quickly. It’s not so easy with elected officials. Our election process is designed for candidates to submit to public dialogue and to address questions raised, which might reveal the natures of those competing for public office.
Voters must resist efforts to corrupt that process, and the surest way is to refuse to elect those adopting a strategy of avoiding the public process. The alternative is giving us public officials who then cater to those who enable the expensive one-way commercial marketing strategy that puts those candidates into office. Initially, those office holders can use their positions for the benefit of their financiers; down the road, those office holders have the ability to reap personal financial rewards.
It takes engaged voters to make informed decisions now that we do not live in small, close communities with lifetime exposure to the character of those seeking to be our leaders. Granted, the process available to us now is not easy, but without our making that effort, look at what happens!
We have posted on the website of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) links to videos of our two primary forums featuring the County Commission candidates who accepted our invitations and submitted to the public scrutiny our members expect.
Look at the calendar on our meetings page. We represent the voters who live in all of the neighborhoods throughout the county, both municipal and unincorporated, and we are encouraged by our members to ask tough questions that provide insight into the character of the candidates seeking elected office.
As noted by one of the candidates participating in our August forum, the voters recognize the disdain inherent in the behavior of candidates seeking election or reelection without having to engage in public dialogue — and the voters are angry.
Please review the videos and vote for those most likely to represent your interests on the county commission:
Wesley Anne Beggs, Mike Cosentino, and Lourdes Ramirezshowed up to submit to our questions on Aug. 13. They are candidates for the District 4 seat on the County Commission.
Alexandra Coe and Ruta Maria Jouniari showed up to submit to our questions on July 9. They are candidates for the District 2 seat.
See www.conasarasota.org/meetings.html for the videos of the forums.
Kafi Benz, president
Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA)