The growth management candidate, Joe Barbetta, won a very close race to become Sarasota County's newest commissioner. Barbetta had 18,885 votes. Casey Pilon finished second with 18,169 and John Lewis finished third with 16,075 votes.
Nora Patterson was re-elected to her seat as commissioner as she ran unopposed.
Many Save Our Sarasota members supported Barbetta's bid for this seat because of his long Planning Board record showing consistent support for managed growth and opposition to moving the urban service boundary further east. He is a strong proponent of infill and redevelopment instead of sprawl. These are principles that Save Our Sarasota believes are important for our quality of life.
This election is likely to have significant impact on the growth in Sarasota County in the years to come.
Barbetta was the target of attack ads during the last two weeks of the election. These ads were sponsored by members of the development and construction business. The message in the ads was that Barbetta was supported by developers and that he voted against establishing "villages" (part of the 2050 Plan to reduce sprawl) thus painting him as being part of the "development problem" in Sarasota. The twisting of Barbetta's record in an attempt to paint him as pro-development was an unusual tactic by the development special interests. It likely had some effect on the vote totals.
Information has recently become available showing individuals that contributed to this attack ad effort. We will publish the list in a day or two.