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Special report Sarasota city commission campaign funding

Special report Sarasota city commission campaign funding


CityPAC’s “no developer donations” pledge — patterned after a similar “no dark money” pledge which residents’ group Venice United requested in their city elections last year — has raised consternation (from developers).

Political donations from businesses seeking policy changes favorable to their bottom lines undermines public trust in the objectivity of legislative decisions. This is particularly true when predatory developers want more than what property rights allow.

In politics, money talks, and the developers of mis-fit projects like One Park (extra skyscraper suspended over the street), Obsidian (the interstitial space skyscraper), or Aventon’s plan to build housing at the end of an airport runway seem to have the ear of the majority of the current city commission.

There have also been a number of unsolicited and non-competitive bids to build for-profit structures in the city’s parking lots and public parks: Bobby Jones, Payne Park, Ken Thompson Park, and St. Armands Circle.


CityPAC funding analysis of Sarasota City Commission campaign donations through the end of May.  All incumbents derived more than 75 percent of their donations from special interests with business before the city

  • Erik Arroyo has NO individual donors from within his district. 75% of his donations - totaling over $70,000 - were from those with business interests before the city.

  • 78% of Liz Alpert’s 91 donations can be tied to special interests, and over 30% is from developers seeking to build commercial enterprises in public parks.

  • 89% of Kyle Battie’s monetary contributions were from developers, bars, or a political party he does not belong to. He even took $1,000 from the CEO of RIDE entertainment right after City Attorney Robert Fournier said Erik Arroyo couldn't vote on RIDE’s proposal to take over Ken Thompson Park because of a conflict of interest.

  • HALF the money in the race (over $114,000) is from special interests.

  • Over 40% of the total so far comes from business interests backing Erik Arroyo’s campaign. At one point Mr. Arroyo wanted to create an official register of lobbyists. All he has to do is check his donor list.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Candidate Forum July 18

CityPAC will be hosting its second 2024 Sarasota City Commission candidate forum on July 18, 2024 at the Friendship Center from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

The format will be a community conversation, featuring voter questions.

All candidates (incumbents and challengers) for the 3 district seats will be invited.


A key metric CityPAC uses in evaluating city commission candidates is their engagement with residents and the issues that impact the city’s livability.

The candidates CityPAC endorsed after its first forum, Ron Kashden (District 2) and Kathy Kelley-Ohlrich (District 3) are hosting open table conversations throughout the summer. Please stop by and chat with them about your priorities for the city:


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