Six vie for two seats in N. Port City Commission races feature three newcomers, two former commissioners

NORTH PORT — North Port voters will start to answer the question of who they want to occupy three open seats on the City Commission Tuesday, when they go to the polls to weigh in on candidates seeking to fill the seats for District 1 and District 2.

District 3 incumbent Debbie McDowell will face Jerry Nicastro for the District 3 seat on Nov. 3.

A fresh face is guaranteed to occupy the District 1 seat, where David Iannotti, Rich Suggs and Nicholas Trolli are in the race.

The three-way District 2 race features two former city commissioners, Cheryl Cook and Jacqueline Moore, and one newcomer, Barbara Langdon.

If any of the three candidates in the two primary races receive more than 50% of the vote Tuesday, they will win the seat outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers will face off on the Nov. 3 ballot.

All six candidates are interested in controlling government spending and expanding infrastructure — especially water and sewer lines to the Interstate 75 interchanges at Sumter and Toledo Blade boulevards and conduit for high-speed internet access in underserved portions of the city.

All six also expressed a willingness to let city consolidation, as proposed by the citizens group West Villagers for Responsible Government, run its course, now that a petition has been presented to the current crop of city officials.

Beyond that, though, they represent a fairly diverse view of how to best govern the city.

While the race has not provided any dramatic flash points, such as those produced in current District 2 City Commissioner Chris Hanks’ bid for the District 5 seat on the Sarasota County Commission, there have been some reverberations from that race that have impacted the city races.

Notably that’s come from the citizen’s group known as ABCD or Accountability = Better Community Direction, which has engaged in a social media war with Hanks that spilled over into early voting last week.

Before that, the social media attacks prompted District 1 candidate Suggs to both blast ABCD on Facebook and endorse Langdon, one of the District 2 candidates.

Langdon returned the endorsement.

Given that both Suggs and Langdon were proponents of North Port Partnership for Creative Economies and have talked up the importance of attracting new business to the city, it’s not surprising that they endorsed one another.

While the two have similar philosophies — new businesses are a key to reducing the residential property tax burden — Suggs comes at it through his background as an accountant, while Langdon can rely on master’s degrees she earned on both business and city planning.

Iannotti, the freshest face to most during the start of the campaign, casts a skeptical eye on the thought that any of the elected officials can bring business to the city. Instead, he asserts that businesses will locate to areas with solid property values and a good quality of life.

He has made a point of calling for the establishment of a mitigation bank, for developers to replace trees removed during construction, as well as preservation of the aforementioned property values and quality of life.

While Iannotti promises to be a unifying voice on a commission, he also expressed a willingness to cut existing spending and personnel to keep city spending in line.

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