City of Sarasota Commission Candidates Survey

We invited the City of Sarasota Commission candidates to share their views about local arts and culture. We have provided their responses to help you make an informed decision.

Respondents were asked to use a 1-5 scale with 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree.

Please scroll to see all candidates.

District 1

NameKyle Scott Battie
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or SeatDistrict 1
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?N/A
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Sarasota Arts and Cultural Alliance Awards Ceremony

Attended numerous shows at the following:
West Coast Black Theater
Florida Studio Theater
Sarasota Film Festival
The ASLO Theater

Additionally, through my television show I’ve featured and highlighted the wonderful arts and cultural community of Sarasota.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?The arts and cultural institutions are one of the largest employers in the city and, if you factor in the large swath of small businesses that depend on the patrons of those institutions it’s probably the largest contributor to our local economy and major driver of tourism here.  So it’s essential to the future of this city and the economic opportunity for our residents and businesses that these organizations remain vibrant and prosperous and continue to be a pillar of our community for years to come.
Additional CommentsI’ve lived in New York City, the epicenter of Arts and Culture in our country, and I can tell you Sarasota has tremendous respect and notoriety in that city within that community. During that time of my life I always spoke with great pride about the quality and amount of arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota.  Both me and my sister were introduced to the arts community by my parents here in Sarasota and it played a major role in our upbringing.  Many cities in Florida have beaches but no other city has the concentration of world class arts and cultural institutions we have.  They are the heartbeat of Sarasota and are part of the fabric of our downtown.

However it’s well known that the arts and culture community is under attack.  We need leaders that appreciate these institutions and are eager and willing to work alongside them so that they can continue to thrive and future generations can share in these experiences.
NameWillie Charles Shaw
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or SeatOne
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.4
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?No
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Van Wezel
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?Arts and culture are key elements of our City’s identity.
Additional CommentsMy mother worked for Hilton and Dorothy Leech who created the Leech School of Art.  They inspired me to a life long interest and appreciation of the arts in Sarasota.

District 2

NameLiz Alpert
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or Seat2
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?Served briefly on the board of the Sarasota Music Conservatory.
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Florida Studio Theatre Suffragist Saturday with Sonia Fuentes.
The Lion King at Van Wezel
Carol Burnett at Van Wezel
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?Arts and culture have a tremendous impact on our local economy. It is one of the largest employers and one of the region’s most important economic drivers. it is what sets us apart from every other community in Florida.
Additional CommentsIt is important for our government leaders to do everything possible to make sure that our arts culture can survive this pandemic and continue to thrive. It is important that we assist them in any way possible to make sure they have the ability to grow with our growing community.
NameJoe Barbetta
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or SeatTWO
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?I was on the VIsit Sarasota Board for many years during the period of 2006 to 2014.  I was also a Sarasota County Commissioner during that period and worked closely with the Arts and Cultural Alliance, including the Annual Grants Program.
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?My wife and I attended several events at VanWezel, also Florida Studio Theatre, the Ringling Museum, Selby Gardens, Mote, and also the Opera and the Sarasota Orchestra.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?The Arts & Cultural Organizations and Institutions in the City not only enrich our Community culturally but they also employ a considerable number of very talented people, they work with our children in our schools, and they are a critical component of our Economic Base.  
Additional CommentsThe current City Commission and Administration do not seem to fully comprehend the tremendous value and importance of these Institutions.  That mindset must change.  I feel that it was very unfortunate how the Orchestra proposal was handled and I would encourage them to bring their proposal back for a new review and reconsideration.
The goal of the new City Commission should be to embrace these valuable “Assets” and to make every reasonable effort to keep them in the City.
NameMartin Hyde
RaceSarasota County Commission Candidate
District or SeatDistrict 2
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.4
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.4
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.4
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?I’ve been to the Sarasota opera several times a year for the past 20 years
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?The direct effect is clear in terms of employment for performers and support staff. The event based hospitality opportunities are obvious too. More subtle but real is the impact on Real state from a desire for many to live in a City that has a strong arts based environment
Additional CommentsThe Arts is typically one of the first things but in difficult economic times in terms of government funding support. Planning for longer term funding recognizing the likelihood of periodic economic downturns is something I’d like to address. Creating ringfenced voter approved arts funding millage would ensure that money for the arts could not be diverted elsewhere.
NameDonald Patterson
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or SeatDistrict 2
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?No cultural Boards. I am dedicated to the protection and development of Children. I currently serve as the Chairman of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Suncoast serving approximately 2000 of the area’s most socially and economically disadvantaged youth.

What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?I support the Kravis Center, Palm Beach Florida and the youth education programs and attend the annual events including this year’s major fundraising event January 2020.Attended the Private viewing of the Broadrick Foundations art collection open to major donors participating in raising fund during the pandemic . The foundation supports Children’s services throughout the Tampa Bay area.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?Interesting questions. We are surrounded by Art as visual and Art through music. And to a much higher degree here in Sarasota as is the attraction to Sarasota and the reason I live here.

Additional CommentsI am an highly accomplished person with vision and imagination. I support the arts and will further the objectives of the Arts organizations in Sarasota with innovation, leadership and inspiration. I will enroll the commission and the community to support the arts as an important element just as roads, parks and the environment.
NameTerry Turner
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or Seat2
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.4
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?None
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Not so many in the last year because of Travel and now the Corona virus. In a normal times, Ringling Museum, Asolo Rep, Florida Studio Theater, Urbanite, and occasionally, Sarasota Orchestra and the Sarasota Opera 
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?I support the arts for their own sake. Their economic impact is helpful, but I would support them even if I did not believe they had an economic impact.
Additional Comments
NameJerry Wells
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or SeatDistrict 2
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?I am on the Parks and Environmental advisory boards. 
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Sadly due to Covid we have not been to anything in months. The reason my family moved to Sarasota over 30 years ago from NYC was because of the arts and culture.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?Arts & culture are one of the most important aspects of a society. 
Additional CommentsOur current commission is driving our arts and culture out of the city. This is a tremendous mistake, we have lost Mote( where my mother volunteered for 12 years) and now we are chasing the orchestra out. I will put an end to this and make sure we retain and support the arts. 

District 3

NameErik Arroyo
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or Seat3
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?No, but I’m a private foundation attorney. I manage or serve on the board of Private Foundations that donate over $500,000 every year to charities in Sarasota, many of which are arts and culture related. 
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?1. Embracing Our Differences exhibit on the bay
2. Artist Series concert/ Pearlman Music Program
3. Donated to Key Chorale
4. Booker High School scholarship award ceremony/cultural show
5. Numerous shows at the VanWezel including the Pirates of Penzance and Book of Mormon
6. The Ringling Museum – Silk Road Exhibit
7. Chicago Ballet – The Nutcracker
8. New College Foundation private event for past donors to sponsor arts and culture program – included showcase of theatre/dance from the students.
9. Circus Arts Conservatory Gala – we had a table with close friends, who donated to the event.
10. Urbanite Theatre – play relating to a miner stuck in a cave. May have been an original work.
11. Sarasota Opera — Event showcasing local talent. Recruiting for their young professional probram.
12. Numerous events at Selby including a tour of new exhibits, development plans with Jennifer Rominiecki and Robert Rominiecki.
13. Spanish Point
14. Not in the last year, but the Sarasota Ballet’s “Ballet Russes” is the greatest ballet I have seen in any part of the world ever.

I’m sure there are others but there are the first ones that come to mind.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?“Sarasota” and “Arts and Culture” are almost synonymous. Our rich history in the circus arts and historical significance to the region is what makes us a powerhouse in regards to tourism. We have a world class botanical garden; an esteemed orchestra that picks the top global talent; a circus arts conservatory with some of the most famous performers of all time; a museum and college that brings talent, exhibits, and speakers from every corner of the world. Sarasota IS arts and culture. If the commission continues to drive away these organizations,  it will drive them away, which will reduce tourism, property values, a tax base, and ultimately hurt every taxpayer in Sarasota.
Additional CommentsThe arts have been a part of me for many years. I went to high school at Riverview high school, where I met my now wife. Our first date was at the Ringling. As a senior, I participated in the senior pageant/talent show, which was called Mr. Riverview. I recorded a song with the help of a program called Audacity and a Rode NT1A microphone I purchased on Ebay. I purchased a license for a rhythm I found online, got my female cousin to do some vocal work, and I did rest. The end result– a rap song that the principal wanted to use as a theme song for the pageant every year after. I won second place (lost by one vote) and $300.

First place went to Brooks Tracey, who is a local teacher now. He played the piano and a harmonica simultaneously to the tune of Billie Joel’s “Piano Man”… it was excellent… but it almost got beat by a rap song.
NameDan Clermont
RaceCity of Sarasota Commission Candidate
District or Seat3
I recognize arts and culture as a key industry impacting our local economy.5
I recognize arts and culture as a major driver of tourism in our region.5
I recognize the importance of arts/culture in our community as a key factor in developing our future growth in jobs and real estate values.5
I support the arts (music, theater, dance, visual arts and media arts) as an essential part of the basic curriculum in our schools.5
Have you served on the boards or committees of arts or cultural institutions. If so, which ones?I have not.
What cultural events (concerts, exhibits, etc.) have you attended this past year?Various performances at Florida Studio Theater.
How would you describe the impact of arts and culture on our local economy?The Sarasota Arts and Cultural institutions are the City’s 2nd largest employer and industry and a key element of our local identity.  It is imperative that the City of Sarasota recognize its responsibility to support and grow these institutions to enrich our City.
Additional CommentsAs a City Commissioner I will always work to accommodate our various Arts and Cultural organizations in their need to grow and thrive in Sarasota in harmony with City neighborhoods and the City in general for the greater good for all.
NameRob Grant
No Response
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