Christian Ziegler Would Benefit From Sarasota County Redistribution Map

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Sarasota County Commissioners are considering a new map that would drastically change the county commission’s district boundaries and facilitate the re-election of Commissioner Christian Ziegler.

The commission met on Tuesday to review potential maps of county commissioners’ districts submitted by the public and a map prepared by the council consultant, and narrowed the options down to three maps. Commissioners will decide which map to adopt at a public hearing on October 26.

Two of the cards were drawn by Brian Goodrich, an attorney with the Bentley Goodrich Kison law firm in Sarasota. According to one of the maps, which the commission called “Goodrich 2,” District 2 would encompass much of rural eastern Sarasota County, the suburban areas of north-central Sarasota County and much of the northern part of the city of Sarasota. These changes would facilitate the re-election of Republican District Commissioner Ziegler, as his district is currently a Democratic-majority.

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Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the county commission, district 2. Sarasota County commissioners reviewed the redistribution maps submitted by the public, as well as those from consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Data from the Census from 2020 indicate that there is a 14% gap between the most populous and least populated districts, suggesting that the county should redirect.

RN Collins, a community activist who closely follows the redistribution, called the card “partisan gerrymandering.”

Goodrich’s other card would be more similar to the current District layout, but it would put more Democrats in District 2, making Mike Moran’s District 1 more Republican and therefore less competitive in elections.

RN Collins was the only member of the public to address the county commission on Tuesday.  Sarasota County Commissioners reviewed the redistribution maps submitted by the public, as well as those from consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Data from the 2020 Census shows that there is a 14% gap between most populated and least populated districts.  , suggesting that the county should redirect.

The other map the commission chose to keep for review is the one prepared by consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates. The county redrawn the boundaries of the commission in 2019 and adopted a map prepared by Spitzer, but based on one drawn by former GOP agent Bob Waechter. Spitzer’s new map is similar to his 2019 map, but it does make a few changes such as allowing districts to have more uniform populations.

One of the common reasons Commissioners rejected some of the maps submitted by the public is that they would have meant that one or more Commissioners would no longer live in their current district – Commissioner Ron Cutsinger in several cases. However, Cutsinger would still be allowed to stay on the commission until the end of his term in these cases, Collins noted. He could then run for office in his new district, if he wished.

Kurt Spitzer and Associates prepared this map.  The lines represent the new neighborhood boundaries that Spitzer is proposing.

“Goodrich 2” card

Under “Goodrich 2”, District 1 would include some of the barrier islands in northern Sarasota County, the far west of the city of Sarasota, and an area stretching from downtown Sarasota to the east of the lake. Sarasota. This configuration resembles a tobacco pipe.

Under this proposal, downtown Sarasota and some of the surrounding areas would move from Ziegler as commissioner to Moran. These citizens, who last voted for a commissioner in 2018, could not vote again for a commissioner before 2024.

District 2 would include much of northern Sarasota, which would allow Newtown to be represented by a single commissioner. One of the commission’s priorities is to keep the predominantly African-American neighborhood in one neighborhood and not to divide it between two neighborhoods.

Moran said the “Goodrich 2” card would allow parts of the county to be represented by two commissioners. For example, two representatives would represent northeast Sarasota County.

“To have two representatives on this board who can represent you, I think that’s very healthy for any community,” he said. “If you don’t get what you want from a certain commissioner, you can go to another.”

Michael Moran, County Commissioner, District 1. Sarasota County Commissioners reviewed publicly submitted redistribution maps, as well as those from consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Data from the 2020 census indicates that 'There is a 14% gap between the most populous and the least populated districts, suggesting the county should redirect.

Ziegler pointed out that the board has yet to make a decision on the cards – they decide which cards to move on to the next meeting. He said the “Goodrich 2” card just gives the board another option to consider at the next meeting.

Commissioner Al Maio also supported moving the map until the October 26 meeting. After Tuesday’s meeting ended, he declined to answer questions about his decision.

Commissioner Nancy Detert was the only one to oppose the two Goodrich cards.

“On District 1, it doesn’t even keep like communities of interest together,” she said of “Goodrich 2,” adding that District 1 stretches from Longboat Key to Lake Sarasota under that. menu.

Goodrich told the Herald-Tribune in an email that his goal with his two cards was to “strike some sort of balance on the board.” He said a Democrat has not been elected to the commission for many years.

“So it seemed logical to try to do one of two things. One would be to try to find an alignment that would be close to, or to, a Democratic majority,” he said, adding that ” Goodrich 1 “does.

“The second would be to try to balance the otherwise predominantly Republican districts so that a Democrat at least has a chance of winning,” he said, adding that this is what “Goodrich 2” is doing.

The "Goodrich 1" The map would give Democrats a greater majority in District 2. This is a map Brian Goodrich submitted and then county consultant Kurt Spitzer scanned.

The Commission’s decision to redistribute

Sarasota County Commissioners decided in late September that they would redraw the boundaries by the end of the year due to uneven population counts in different districts based on the latest census.

When deciding whether to redirect the district, counties consider how much the population of each district differs from the ideal distribution of approximately 86,801 people per district in Sarasota.

The 2020 census results show that according to the 2019 map of Spitzer, the most populous commission district in Sarasota County, District 1, is 6% above the ideal population. In contrast, the least populated district, District 2, is 8% below the ideal number. This means that there is a gap of 14 percentage points between the least populated and the most populous districts.

Consultant Kurt Spitzer spoke to the county commission on Tuesday.  Sarasota County Commissioners reviewed the redistribution maps submitted by the public, as well as those from consultant Kurt Spitzer and Associates on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Data from the 2020 Census shows that there is a 14% gap between most populated and least populated districts.  , suggesting that the county should redirect.

At the September commission meeting, county attorney Rick Elbrecht said that when the gap is greater than 10 percentage points, it is strongly recommended that the board of directors redistribute the district.

The board decided to redirect, and their consultant, Spitzer, prepared an updated map that would have a spread of just under 5%.

Anne Snabes covers city and county government for the Herald-Tribune. You can contact her at [email protected] or (941) 228-3321 and follow her on Twitter at @a_snabes.



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