With two votes required by state law, county commissioners formally adopt new district lines

Commissioner Ziegler casts ‘No’ votes, in keeping with his Nov. 15 decision not to support redistricting consultant’s map

The County Commission sits in session on Dec. 7. News Leader image

With a special meeting conducted prior to their regular meeting on Dec. 7, and then a vote near the end of that regular meeting, the Sarasota County commissioners formally adopted the new district boundaries that they approved on Nov. 15.

Those last two steps were a requirement of state law to make their latest redistricting initiative comply with provisions of the Florida Statutes.

As he did last month, Commissioner Christian Ziegler cast the solitary “No” votes on Dec. 7. The first was on a motion that acknowledged the proof of publication of the notice of the adoption of the new boundaries, with direction to the clerk to the board “to enter the same on the minutes, pursuant to Section 124.02, Florida Statutes,” as the agenda item put it.

The second motion was to approve the minutes of that special meeting. Commissioner Nancy Detert made that motion, and Commissioner Michael Moran seconded it.

The original County Commission meeting schedule had called for two regular sessions this week — on Dec. 8 as well as Dec. 7. However, the one on the 8th was cancelled. Therefore, as Chair Alan Maio explained during the afternoon session, a different clerk to the board had to handle the recording of the second vote that day.

The county website’s 2021 Redistricting webpages include these two steps as the final ones necessary for the new map to be adopted. The Dec. 8 meeting ended up being cancelled. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The process ended up creating a delay of about 10 minutes before the board conducted its final public hearing on Dec. 7, which was on plans to hold a March 2022 referendum on the Single-Member Districts election system that voters approved in November 2018. (See the related story in this issue.)

After the Nov. 15 public hearing on the proposed redistricting maps, Ziegler voiced his support for one that Sarasota attorney Brian Goodrich had submitted to the county. Dubbed “Goodrich 2,” it swapped Districts 1 and 2. Therefore, as the District 2 representative on the board, Ziegler would have been running as commissioner for the area that Commissioner Michael Moran has been representing.

Ziegler is expected to run for re-election himself in 2022.

In 2019, the commissioners approved district lines that moved most of the African American community of Newtown into District 2. Speakers contended that that action was designed to facilitate Moran’s re-election in 2020, as Newtown voters traditionally support Democratic candidates.

All of the county commissioners are Republicans. Therefore, members of the public have talked about the potential of a Democratic candidate posing a serious challenge to Ziegler in 2022.

This is the Goodrich 2 map that the commissioners included for consideration during their public hearing on Nov. 15. Image courtesy Sarasota County
This is the map that consulting firm Kurt Spitzer & Associates created for the County Commission for consideration. It became the official map after the board took redistricting-related votes this week. Image courtesy Sarasota County

County residents also have pointed out that the districts in the new map formally adopted this week mirror those that the board approved in November 2019. The latest map was prepared for the board members by the county’s redistricting consultant, Kurt Spitzer of Tallahassee.

Moran had won approval in October for one tweak to that map — the extension of the southern boundary of District 1 to Clark Road/State Road 72.