NORTH PORT – North Port voters will have two virtual forums to monitor where they can learn about the candidates hoping to win their support on Nov. 3 for the District 1, 2 and 3 North Port City Commission seats.
With three of five seats on the commission on the November ballot, 2020 is a potential watershed year. The board faces an uncertain economy because of the impact of COVID-19, a looming increase of expenses as a parks maintenance agreement with Sarasota County winds down and the continuing quest to diversify an economy heavily dependent on residential property taxes.
Early voting for the general election will run from Oct. 19 to Nov. 1.
The first forum, hosted by the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce on its Facebook page, will be from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 21.
Both Rich Suggs and David Iannotti are seeking to succeed Vanessa Carusone, who is precluded by term limits from another bid for District 1.
Suggs, a certified public accountant and president of The Suggs Group, has run on a pro business-development platform to diversify the economy and points to his introduction of Wayne Riser to Ruth Buchanan, North Port’s former economic development manager, as key to the location of Tuscola Commons within the city.
He’ll seek to upend Iannotti, a 15-year city resident who is in sales and management and who received the most votes in the Aug. 18 primary.
But with a significantly larger turnout because of the presidential election in November, primary finishes may not be a good predictor for the general election.
Iannotti characterizes himself as someone who is willing to build consensus among fellow commissioners and values the environment, preservation of existing neighborhoods and protecting property values.
In District 2, former city commissioner Jacqueline Moore, who finished first in the primary, will attempt to hold off Barbara Langdon in her bid to earn a second term on the City Commission.
Langdon started her campaign in August 2019, shortly after District 2 incumbent Chris Hanks announced his bid for the Sarasota County Commission.
Moore resigned her seat after two years on the board 2016 so she could run in her home district during the first election in which commissioners had to to live in the district they represent. She lost to Hanks in 2016 but went on to found the Kindness Community.
Moore has advocated creating a community where the residents are thriving – as well as fostering economic growth.
Langdon, who has master’s degrees in both business and city planning, also sees economic growth as vital to diversifying the city’s tax base.
While the District 1 and 2 candidates were able to define themselves to a degree during the primary, the current board started moving ahead on issues raised during August candidate forums – notably extension of sewer lines to the Sumter Boulevard interchange with Interstate 75, and extending fiber to provide high-speed internet to underserved areas of the city.