Elect Arlene Sweeting
Charter Review Board, District 1
Why I'm Running?
If you know me, you know I was an active supporter of Bernie Sanders Campaign for President. Bernie was someone I'd listened to on the radio for years, he was genuine, he didn't try to triangulate or poll-test his positions, you knew where he stood and you could always count on him to be on the side of the environment, on the side of the worker. He wasn't afraid to take positions outside the mainstream when to do otherwise would conflict with his principles and his values. He understood the importance of building a people-powered grassroots democracy movement to take on the corruption of our political system. And from the beginning, I saw the potential of his campaign to energize and engage people in the political process.
Part of the reason I am running is because I want to see the 'political revolution' Bernie started continue. And that means getting more people engaged at every level of government. That means saying what you mean, and doing what you say. Standing up for principles and being rooted in your values. The 'revolution' is really about re-invigorating democracy.
And so when I see people threatening to change the Charter Review Board from an elected body to an appointed body - it runs against my principles. Principles that include supporting community engagement, making sure people have a voice, holding government accountable, looking out for the common good, and putting people before profits.
Democracy Matters Platform
I support keeping the Charter Review Board elected and will work to educate and engage more people in their County Government. I would like to see a Citizen’s Bill of Rights added to the County Charter to increase the transparency and accountability of local government.
Keep Board Elected!
I strongly support an elected Charter Review Board. Government should be accountable to the people. An appointed board is only accountable to those who appoint them.
What is the Charter?
Not many people in Sarasota are familiar with the County Charter and the role of the CRB. If elected, I will support developing a presentation to educate the public about the history of the Charter and the role of the Charter Review Board.
Encourage Citizen Involvement
If elected, I will hold district level meetings to listen to the concerns of my constituents and seek input on issues that come before the Charter Review Board.
Integrity in government is essential if we are to re-build trust with citizens. Not only would I hold myself to the highest standards, I would support a review of the Code of Ethics under which elected officials operate to see if they can be strengthened.
ELECTION OF COUNTY-WIDE SEATS
Making government more representative/responsive
Right now, County Commissioners and Charter Review Board members are elected county-wide. This makes it extremely difficult for grassroots candidates to be viable. Currently 43% of registered voters in the County are Republicans, 31% of voters are Democrats, and 26% are third party or NPA, but 100% of our County Commission and 100% of our Charter Review Board are Republicans. This year we had two County Commission seats go unchallenged. This is not good for our democracy. I have been approached by a number of residents that support single-member districts and I think it is time for the Charter Review Board to revisit the way in which County-wide offices are elected. I would be interested in looking at a a number of different options to determine what might work best in Sarasota.
A little about me...
(maybe more than you want to know).
My Father was Bahamian. With a fifth grade education, he started working at the age of 11 delivering newspapers. He grew up on Harbour Island, a small island in the Eleuthera chain of Islands. He moved to Nassau and worked for a building supplies company before starting his own business - Nassau Dunbrik. He made and sold concrete blocks. He worked hard and his business thrived. He met my Mom, a nurse, in Miami when he was visiting a friend that was sick at the hospital. They had three children - and I am the youngest of the three. I spent my early years in Nassau (with summers in Harbour Island) - and when I wasn't in school, my brother and I were on the water. It's where my appreciation of the natural world blossomed. Mom and Dad separated when I was 12. I moved to Central Florida with my Mom and attended jr. high and high school in Auburndale, Florida. My grandfather owned and operated a citrus grove. We lived on the property and got used to the rhythms of rural Florida.
I left Florida for the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) . I made great friends in college and learned a lot both inside and outside the classroom before graduating with a political science degree. From there it was on to DC to save the world. After all, isn't that why you major in political science? Of course, with no real connections in the area, I wound up working in the environmental division of the Chemical Manufacturer's Association. Our job was to make sure industry was complying with government regulations. I hung in for a year and a half, before returning to school to obtain my Master's in Education (James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA) . With my graduate degree in hand, I decided to come back home to Florida to be closer to family and closer to the water.
The Middle Years...
I settled in Bradenton and worked as a substitute teacher before obtaining a full-time job at King Middle School teaching six grade science. I loved teaching and impacting the lives of young people. The other thing I did when I moved back to Florida, was get active with the Sierra Club. As I said, one of the reasons I moved back to Florida was to be closer to the water and I wanted to make sure I actually got out and enjoyed our tremendous natural resources. So I joined the Club to meet other people that liked to spend time outdoors, but I also quickly became involved in leadership roles. I became an Outings Leader, served as Publicity Chair, Publications Chair, Conservation Chair, and eventually, became Group chair of the Manatee/Sarasota Sierra Club. From there I went on to serve as State Conservation Chair for the Florida Sierra Club for two years. It was these two areas of interest - education and the environment - that led me to make the decision to run for the Florida State House in 2000. I ran against three-term incumbent Mark Flanagan and, truthfully, I was terrified, but I felt so strongly that the State was moving in the wrong direction on the issues I cared the most about that I felt I had to do something. We ran a very grassroots campaign, did a lot of door-knocking and wound up with 45% of the vote - which was better than any Democrat had done in West Bradenton in a while. We got a lot of people engaged in the process that had never been involved before and it was one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. I think it is an experience every one should have at least once!
More Recent Experience
I met my partner, David Beaton, during that first campaign. We shared a similar vision and values and enjoyed working together. We were energized by the campaign and wanted to try to keep the energy going. We talked about buying a print shop and starting a progressive newspaper to help keep people informed about what was happening in the community. Somehow, that turned into us purchasing the old Greyhound bus station in Bradenton and opening the Fogartyville Cafe. Dave continued his job at MCC, and I took on the responsibility of running the cafe - which included becoming a vegetarian chef for a while. We grew a great community of music-lovers, political-junkies, and people concerned about building a better world. In 2004, we were presented with the opportunity of starting a low power radio station. We felt that a community radio station would enable us to reach more people and expand our reach, so we put in endless volunteer time to make the dream a reality. The result - WSLR - went on the air in August 2005 and we phased out Fogartyville Cafe - finally closing in 2007. I served as station manager for 9 years, before turning the reins over to Dave and company. We kept hearing from people that even though they loved the radio station, they really missed having a space to gather. So when the opportunity presented itself - we moved the radio station to a new home in the Fall of 2011 and opened Fogartyville in its new form (a non-profit) in the adjacent space in 2013. In 2014 in my role as director of the Peace Education and Action Center, I took over management of the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center.
On the Campaign Trail
Photos & videos from the campaign. There are 4 other Democrats running for the Charter Review Board. They are Mike Shlasko, Ray Porter, Karen Collins-Fleming, and Tom Patalano. We all support an elected Charter Review Board. The election for Charter Review Board is County-Wide, so you can support all of these candidates.
Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club
Having been actively involved in the Sierra Club for many years, I am happy to receive the endorsement of the local Chapter.
Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida
As a member or the Sarasota-Charlotte Democratic Progressive Caucus, I am pleased to receive the endorsement of the
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If you prefer to mail in a check, you can make it out to:
Arlene Sweeting for Charter Review Board (abbreviate to CRB)
P.O. Box 2201
Sarasota, FL 34230