Sarasota News Leader

10/19/2012

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A UNIFIED FRONT Suncoast community representatives are hoping that a unified position on issues will give them more sway with Florida legislators in the 2013 session. iStock photo LEGISLATIVE SUMMIT PARTICIPANTS IN SARASOTA COUNTY WANT THEIR VOICES HEARD IN TALLAHASSEE By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor What exactly should our legislators be doing up in Tallahassee? That is the question that brought 120 Suncoast community representa- tives out to the Girl Scouts' conference center Tuesday, Oct. 16. Organized by the Community Alliance of Sara- sota County, a coalition of health and human services nonprofits, the gathering was the first of its kind — a Legislative Summit intended to organize local voices and draft a clear list of priorities and suggestions that will be pre- sented later to the area's legislative delega- tion. Leaders from many different community groups, including health nonprofits and even the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, partic- ipated, as did the public, putting forward suggestions and breaking up into five work groups to study different topic areas. Florida Center for Early Childhood President and CEO Kathryn Shea, one of the event's chief organizers, says the Summit "went ex- traordinarily well." Like any first-time event, success was hardly guaranteed. But Shea had a model. Elizabeth Barbella, who has put on events like this week's on the Treasure Coast many times, traveled to Sarasota to facilitate the discussions. "It was a real active, real involved day for the community," says Shea, adding that early re-

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