On May 4th, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Sarasota County Commission's rigged redistricting ahead of this November's election. Judge William Jung ruled that he found no evidence that the all-Republican Commission's move of the African American Newtown community into another district not scheduled to vote till 2022 was driven by "skin color rather than simple political gerrymandering and ‘hardball’ partisan incumbent protection.”
The protected partisan is District 1 Commissioner Michael Moran -- and Citizens for Sarasota County has put out an urgent call for petition signatures to help qualify Mike Hutchinson for the ballot. Hutchinson, a Republican, has come forward to challenge Moran in the August primary. Citizens for Sarasota County is also urging petition signatures for Mark Pienkos, a Democrat who will run against the winner of the Republican primary.
Urgent: Please download and sign both petitions here. You will be able to email or mail them to the campaigns. The link also has petitions for newly declared school board candidates to sign.
Background: In 2018 a grassroots effort won a ballot measure for single-member districts in Sarasota County, which had assigned commissioners to districts but held voting at large. It was hoped that single-member districts would give Democrats their first change in 50 years to win a seat on the Commission. So the Republican commissioners redistricted, breaking up the one district considered possible to flip. The already declared candidate for that district, former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins, was moved out of the district, along with the Newtown community.
Atkins, with two co-plaintiffs, sued to overturn the gerrymander. While the lawsuit was pending, Atkins qualified to run for the seat.
Meanwhile, Pienkos began a petition drive to qualify in the event that the lawsuit did not succeed. Now Pienkos needs to finish collecting the required petitions or pay a $5,000 filing fee.
These petitions need to be submitted on May 11th, so there is no time to lose. Thanks for helping!