Save Siesta Key incorporation team to conduct straw vote
By John Morton
Save Siesta Key is conducting a “straw vote” by mail in hopes of demonstrating that a majority of Siesta Key residents want the opportunity to vote on whether to incorporate the island. In November, a non-binding ballot will be sent to all registered Siesta Key voters.
Last year, the local Sarasota County Legislative Delegation – which shot down the incorporation effort in a 3-3 tie vote — strongly encouraged that Save Siesta Key take such a measure to gauge public interest.
“As one member of our delegation put it, ‘If a straw vote indicates an overwhelming majority of Siesta residents want the question of incorporation put on the ballot, how could we possibly deny you?’” Tim Hensey, Save Siesta Key chairman, said. “The results will give our local delegation evidence that the residents of Siesta Key are serious about preserving the island for generations to come, to share with their fellow senators and representatives in Tallahassee.”
Here is how it will work, according to Hensey:
In the Nov. 14-17 time frame, every registered voter of Siesta Key will receive a straw ballot via first class mail at the address which receive all vote-by-mail ballots.
Prior to receiving the straw ballot, each registered voter will receive a post card letting them know to expect the ballot and a picture of the envelope, so that it is not mistaken as “junk mail” and discarded.
Straw ballots will be mailed directly to registered voters and include a stamped, first-class self- addressed envelope to return the ballot.
The ballots will be returned to the law firm of Persson, Cohen, Mooney, Fernandez, & Jackson in Lakewood Ranch, whose representatives will tally the votes.
“We are taking this extra step to ensure there is no accusation of fraud or misconstrued results,” Hensey said.
Ballots must be returned no later than Dec. 17.
The results of the straw vote will be made public on the incorporation team’s website (SaveSiestaKey.org) and shared with the press as soon as available, Hensey said.
“As a clarification, the straw vote is not an official vote. The results will be used to demonstrate that a majority of Siesta Key residents desire an official vote in 2023 on the incorporation of Siesta Key,” he added.
The next official step is a majority (three out of four) vote from the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation, which must deliver a yes vote to introduce the incorporation of Siesta Key as draft bill, in January of 2023, for the spring session. If approved, the bill will be voted on by the entire House of Representatives and the Senate. The governor also needs to approve the bill.
As part of the effort to allow the community to decide on incorporating the island, Save Siesta Key
submitted a new feasibility study and charter to the Florida Legislature on Aug. 31. These documents are available at SaveSiestaKey.org.
“To stay abreast of all these important developments, plan to attend the Third Thirsty Thursday community gatherings on Nov. 17 and Dec. 15 the at Siesta Beach pavilion,” Hensey said.