Voters Defeat Sarasota Strong Manager Amendment

Sarasota's municipal government structure will remain the same for now.

Whether you called it the Strong Manager or the Strong Auditor amendment, you can call it defeated.

With all precincts reporting, 11,002 Sarasota city voters said no to the proposed charter amendment that would have stripped the Office of City Auditor and Clerk of most of its powers and have it transferred to the city manager.

That vote was enough for 55.33 percent of the vote while 8,883 voters agreed with the amendment, which is 44.67 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results.

The amendment was brought to the ballot through a citizen-driven referendum by Citizens For A Better Sarasota and had the backing of Commissioner Terry Turner. Citizens For A Better Sarasota is being investigated for state elections violations for failure to file financial and organizational reports.

The vote comes on the same day that a letter was made public where former city manager Robert Bartolotta was cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement stemming from a year-long Internet Technology Department investigation.

The amendment was broached during a search for a new city manager and made the ballot before the new city manager, Tom Barwin, could be hired. A last-minute attempt to have a counter referendum for an elected mayor proposed by Commissioner Paul Caragiulo failed to make the ballot.

Mayor Suzanne Atwell has tried to steer clear of inserting herself in this heated debate, and told Patch Tuesday night that "The merits of the case are worth of a very, very sober assessment, but the process leaves me questioning."

Regardless of the vote, there will be a different feel in the air of city government, Atwell predicts.

"There is change for City Hall with this amendment no matter what," she said.

Plus more change could be on the way depending on how city voters feel—municipal elections are in spring 2013. So far Richard Dorfman, Linda Holland, Kelvin Lumpkin and Pete Theisen have all filed to run in the at-large races. Atwell and Turner are both up for re-election, but have not officially filed yet.

The city can move on now with Barwin in place, knowing what lies ahead for the time being, that its government will stay the same.

Atwell praised Barwin for his "soft skills" with people, saying that "he's on his way to shaking the hand of everybody in this city" and is impressed with his poise.

Here are the unofficial results of the remaining city charter amendments:

Super Majority Vote for Certain Franchises, Contracts, Leases and Pension Plan Changes


Yes                  11093              56.06%                       


No                     8693              43.94%           




Derivatives Prohibition


Yes                  11731              60.21%


No                     7754              39.79%





Citizens’ Initiative Petition to Amend Charter, Extension of Time to Obtain Signatures


Yes                  10341              53.10%


No                     9133              46.90%





Deletion of Alternate Minimum Wage


Yes                  9054               44.99%


No                  11069               55.01%





Charter Review Committee General Recommendations


Yes                  7275                37.91%


No                 11916                62.09%





No Certificates of Participation to be Issued Unless Approved at Referendum


Yes                  10204              53.95%


No                     8709              46.05%





Split Office of ‘City Auditor and Clerk’ into City Auditor and New City Clerk


Yes                  8883               44.67%


No                  11002               55.33%



  • Elected Mayor Charter Amendment Won't Make November Ballot
  • Proposed Charter Amendment Puts $500k At Risk
  • Commission Strikes Down Proposed Elected Mayor Referendum
  • Commission Advances Pension Language Correction
  • Former Mayor Clapp Starts PAC To Support Strong Manager System
  • State Investigating Citizens For A Better Sarasota


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