Sarasota News Leader

02/08/2013

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MAKING THEIR CASES City Commission Candidate Kelvin Lumpkin has the mike. Next to him – and going down the row – are Suzanne Atwell, Richard Dorfman, Pete Theisen, Linda Holland and Susan Chapman. Photo by Stan Zimmerman CITY COMMISSION CANDIDATES SHADOWBOX IN FRONT OF THEIR NEIGHBORS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor The City of Sarasota seems to conduct "retail" elections, through which an office is won or lost by a handful of votes. And many voters rely on their better-informed neighbors to guide them on their choices. This was one of the earliest candidate forums of the season, so the campaigners were not yet stuck in verbal ruts or wedded to certain issues. Campaigning was still fun, and it showed. Voters in the city who go to the polls March 12 will be able to cast ballots for two of the six candidates running for the City Commission's at-large seats. The top three vote getters will spar in a May runoff, when the odd person is forced out and the top two earn their seats at City Hall. THE BIG ISSUES? On Feb. 2, the six candidates faced one of their most critical audiences, members of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations. These are the men and women who are elected to lead their neighborhoods, and they often help their neighbors figure out whom to support in the elections. They know the issues and are passionate about their city. The forum encompassed six candidates, 11 questions, 90 minutes, a full house and one news reporter. Question one: "What are the main issues facing the city?" Kelvin Lumpkin: "Crime and violence in North Sarasota, the looming budget crisis, finding an honorable solution for our homeless." Suzanne Atwell: "The State Street [parking] garage; break the impasse over the Quay [property, which remains undeveloped in the

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