Resolution in Support of Voting Rights Restoration Amendment #14-01

Please click here to be directed to the petition: 

Whereas, Florida has one of the most punitive disenfranchisement policies in the country, permanently barring all citizens with felony convictions from voting unless they individually apply to the state Office of Executive Clemency for rights restoration.

Whereas, this policy bars more than 1.7 million Floridians – including more than one in five African-Americans in the state – from the polls. Florida has the highest disenfranchisement rate in the country.

Whereas, under Governor Rick Scott only 2,400 felons have had their voting rights restored compared to 150,000 under Governor Charlie Crist.

Whereas, in Florida it is far easier for a convicted felon to restore their right to carry a concealed weapon than to restore their right to vote.

Therefore, the Sarasota County Democratic Party supports Floridians for a Fair Democracy and their petition drive to place on the ballot a Constitutional Amendment to restore felons voting rights after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.

We encourage our members to sign this petition and will provide support in gathering the petitions and with copying, printing and mailing of petitions.  We also respectfully request that the Florida Democratic Party adopt this as a Statewide Issue.

Please click here to be directed to the petition:




SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota County Democratic Party is deeply disappointed, but not surprised, that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives — including our own congressmen, Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney –have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act today.  In doing so, they have voted to take away health care from as many as 24 million Americans and put millions of people with pre-existing conditions in life-threatening danger.  In the process, they have also given themselves, and other rich Americans, a huge tax cut.

Instead of doing the hard work of improving the insurance program on which so many Americans now depend, Republicans have taken the easy path of following the dictates of the radical right-wing ideology now holding sway in the House.  Simply put, Buchanan and Rooney, and all the other Republicans who have voted for this disastrous so-called health plan, have chosen to put their own political lives and personal fortunes ahead of the very real lives of many less-fortunate Americans.

Floridians and other Americans are not stupid.  They know that this bill will not help Americans.  We ask our senators to call a halt to this nonsense before people are hurt, and we will hold Rooney and Buchanan accountable for their outrageous lack of concern for our fellow citizens.

For Additional Information, contact:
JoAnne DeVries, Chair
Sarasota County Democratic Party

Press Release – Sarasota County Democratic Party Supports Hagen Brody and Jennifer Ahearn-Koch for City Commission

The Sarasota County Democratic Party (SCDP) is proud to support Hagen Brody and Jennifer Ahearn-Koch for Sarasota City Commission. SCDP Chair JoAnne DeVries stated “they have both proven themselves to be strong candidates with exceptional insight into the issues important to voters in the city. They are, without a doubt, the best and most qualified candidates for the Sarasota City Commission.”

Recently, some local newspapers and online news organizations have been quoting a few private individuals in a way that confusingly and wrongly characterizes them as speaking for the Democratic Party, DeVries noted. Such persons hold no positions of party leadership, she pointed out. “Only SCDP officers and officially designated spokespersons are authorized to speak on behalf of our party and its leadership,” she said.

DeVries urged all registered voters in the city to vote for Ahearn-Koch and Brody and asked fellow Democrats, whether in the city or the county, to support their campaigns with donations and volunteer hours. Early Voting is from Monday, May 1st until Sat, May 6th from 8:30am – 4:30pm daily at SOE Terrace Bldg, 2001 Adams Lane, Sarasota, Fl 941-861-600

For Additional Information, contact
JoAnne DeVries, Chair
Sarasota County Democratic Party

For Immediate Release – Sarasota County Democrats support efforts to protect wildlife sanctuary at Celery Fields


The Sarasota County Democratic Party joins local environmental efforts and members of the community in opposition to the rezoning or sale of public lands near Celery Fields in Sarasota County. We do so for the following reasons:

  1. The Celery Fields is an internationally recognized bird preserve and wildlife habitat.
  2. Among the top reasons people visit and move to Sarasota County are our good weather, our fine beaches, and our excellent parks and preserves. These have contributed to the Sarasota metropolitan area being recently ranked #21 by US News/World Report in its survey of Top 100 Places to Live in the USA — and the highest ranked area in Florida.
  3. The internationally known Audubon Society, with the assistance of the Sarasota County Government, has constructed a popular ecotourism visitors’ center on the grounds of Celery Fields. This ecotourism center attracts thousands of visitors to our county every year, and these visitors generate a considerable contribution to our local economy.
  4. The public parcels for sale currently serve as a buffer and gateway to the Celery Fields ecotourism destination. Commercial sale and rezoning would eliminate that buffer.
  5. The Celery Fields wildlife sanctuary is located within a publicly-funded multi-million dollar Sarasota County storm water retention facility at the headwaters of Philippi Creek which leads to Sarasota Bay — a designated estuary of national significance. Rezoning decisions should not compromise water quality and marine life.

The Sarasota County Democratic Party urges the Board of County Commissioners to consider the risks to ecotourism, quality of life and environment, and designate the public lands adjacent to the Celery Fields as a parkland and wildlife habitat.

For Additional Information, contact
JoAnne DeVries, Chair
Sarasota County Democratic Party


Environmental Voter Resolution

Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (DECF)

Environmental Voter Resolution

Whereas the Florida Democratic Party and its members are dedicated to electing more candidates to all offices at every electoral level, and to increasing the number of Democratic voters in the state; and

Whereas, 81 % of Floridians think that climate change is occurring, and that Florida is the most vulnerable of all states to sea level rise from climate change; and

Whereas the majority of Florida voters have consistently supported proenvironmental issues in recent years, including passage by 75% of a 2014 constitutional amendment to protect and preserve the state’s water and land, and twice voting decisively to protect access to solar energy; and

Whereas, Florida business and tourism is compatible and synergistic with preservation of the environment; and

Whereas, the continued success of Florida business is directly connected to preservation of the environment;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Florida Democratic Party will integrate environmental values into communications strategies, messaging and support for Democratic candidates at all electoral levels; and

Be it further resolved that the Florida Democratic Party will develop and implement strategies to better engage all environmental voters.

We did it! Or better yet, YOU did it – ACA

Fellow Democrats,

We did it! Or better yet, YOU did it: Against all odds, YOU forced the Republicans to withdraw their disastrous, morally bankrupt health-care bill from consideration, rendering a humiliating defeat to the Trump White House and the Ryan-controlled House.

Thankfully, your relentless efforts kept the President and Republican held Congress from passing this horrific bill that would have removed about 24 million people from health care. Now millions of Americans won’t be thrown off the insurance they had gained under President Obama and millions more won’t lose their Medicaid benefits. Let’s hope this is only the beginning of a multitude of defeats for Trump.

Making phone calls, sending letters and emails, attending meetings, reaching out to friends and neighbors, holding demonstrations, demanding town halls with Reps. Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney, showing up in huge numbers, and peppering them with sharp, smart questions all mattered. YOUR involvement makes a difference.

We ask you to draw strength from this victory for the ordinary, extraordinary people of this country and continue working with us as we strive to highlight and defeat the backward-looking, draconian agenda of the Trump administration and the GOP.  Please stay active and contact the SCDP to find out what more you can do. Your continued involvement is key.

Thanks to all who have shared their ideas and experiences with us. Don’t stop! Keep talking about politics and effective action. We must continue to rise up and fight back together – for our community, our country and our future. Please join us as we move forward in Sarasota County.

Again, thank you.

JoAnne Devries
Chair, Sarasota County Democratic Party
Call us if we can help: 941-330-9400




Whereas the Celery Fields is an internationally recognized bird sanctuary and wildlife habitat located on Palmer Road due east of Apex Road in Sarasota County,

Whereas the Audubon Society has constructed a popular visitors’ center on Celery Fields grounds attracting tens of thousands of visitors,

Whereas Palmer Road is a two-lane thoroughfare without traffic signals leading east past multiple housing developments,

Therefore, it is resolved that the Sarasota County Democratic Party supports local environmentalists and members of the community opposing any rezoning or sale of public lands at Palmer and Apex Roads for light or heavy industrial use and urges the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners to designate public lands adjacent to Celery Fields marsh areas as park land and wild-life habitat.


Approved unanimously by the Sarasota County Democratic Executive Committee
March 9, 2017

Sarasota County Democratic Party Resolution on President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban

Whereas, the Sarasota County Democratic Party unequivocally repudiates the actions of the Trump administration in banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and we call upon President Trump to rescind his January 27 Executive Order immediately. This ban targeting specific Muslim-majority countries is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, un-American, and unacceptable. We must not allow fear, and fear mongering, to distort our moral compass.

Whereas, this ill-considered Executive Order has caused chaos within Homeland Security and has severely impacted the lives of countless thousands of individuals and families of both legal residents and already carefully vetted refugees. Further, it has caused consternation and condemnation among the international community toward the United States, and, by all accounts, empowers radical jihadists, incites retaliation, and actually makes us less safe.

Whereas, America must continue to stand as a beacon of freedom and provide safe haven to victims of persecution as we have done since our founding.  We must fight terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims. All Americans of all colors, ages, races, and religions must speak out against this ban. We are a people, indivisible, and must continue to stand for liberty and justice for all. 

Therefore, the Sarasota County Democratic Party calls upon President Trump to rescind this Executive Order immediately. Barring such immediate action, we call upon our courts to intervene to permanently enjoin enforcement of this order.


Approved unanimously by the Sarasota County Democratic Executive Committee
February 8, 2017


News from your State Committee Representatives

News from16113883_10211460831894459_5335645428275388045_n your State Committee Representatives
Mike Shlasko, Sarasota Democratic Party State Committeeman
Mary Clupper, Sarasota Democratic Party State Committeewoman

The holidays were a very busy time for your new State Committee representatives. From the day that we were elected on December 14 to the day of the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Organizational Meeting in Orlando on January 14 not only were we involved in Sarasota Democratic Party (SCDP) organizational issues but we were enveloped by a very fast paced campaign for Chair of the Florida Democratic Party, additional FDP Officers, and 10 Florida Democratic National Committee (DNC) Members. The Chair race consumed the bulk of our time for 30 days.

We met with all Chair candidates, some at candidate forums, some at our headquarters, some over dinner. We also spoke to candidates via phone, via Facebook Messenger and via SMS Message. We listened to candidates as they addressed DEC’s across the state and watched DEC elections that determined candidate eligibility via Facebook Live. We listened to candidates stating their positions via Internet Radio and as they answered questions from Democratic Interest Groups via email. In short, the availability of such diverse media kept the candidates, and we who were asked to make choices, totally immersed in the process and allowed us to become very well informed very quickly.

There were 5 candidates for party Chair and although arcane party rules on qualification made for interesting headlines, in the end we had 5 strong candidates for the position. Those candidates included the then current First Vice-Chair, a former State Senator and former Chair of the Miami-Dade DEC, the Chair of the Duval DEC, the Chair of the Osceola DEC, and a gentleman by the name of Stephen Bittel. Bittel is a very successful Miami businessman, the Co-Chair of the DNC Finance Committee and active FDP fundraiser.

After careful consideration, we both decided that Stephen Bittel was the best candidate. He ran by far the best campaign demonstrating a very commendable work ethic and organizational skills. He was the most sensitive to the issues faced by small to mid-sized red counties like ours. And he presented a plan to ensure that Florida would never again help to elect a Republican President. He presented his plan to dramatically ramp up the party’s financing, organization structure, staffing, training and messaging. On January 11, we met with the SCDP Board and asked for a unanimous Board endorsement which was agreed to just before midnight. On January 12, our endorsement, along with several other Southwest Florida County DEC’s which we coordinated with, was announced publicly, making us instrumental in the election of Stephen Bittel as FDP Chair on the first ballot two days later. In addition to the election of Mr. Bittel, a diverse slate of officers and DNC Members were also elected.

We will continue to fulfill our duties as liaison to the FDP but are now very focused on our party here in Sarasota. Mary has taken responsibility for Clubs & Caucuses and Mike has taken responsibility for Communications and Bylaws. We look forward to serving you for the next 4 years and to the many important contributions that you will be making to help us take our party to the next level.

In Solidarity,

Mike & Mary


How to become and elected/voting member of SCDP

Many of you have expressed interest in becoming an elected/voting member of the Sarasota County Democratic Party (SCDP).  The way that most people become an elected/voting member is to become a Precinct Committeeman or Committeewoman.

To help you decide whether this is something you would like to do, we have put together this brief guide, which contains answers to questions we get asked most often:

What is a precinct? Think of a precinct as your general neighborhood. A precinct is the smallest political geographical unit maintained by the county for voting purposes..

Who can be a Precinct Committeeman/woman? All that is required to be a Precinct Committeeman/woman is to be a registered Democrat in your precinct and to be willing to be in contact with voters in your precinct.

What is the minimum time commitment? There is no minimum time commitment.  We ask that you reach out to your neighbors on a regular basis – with our help — and build a team of volunteers who will be available at election time to reach out to our voters. 

How does someone become a Precinct Committeeman/woman? The bylaws of our party require that anyone who wants to become an elected precinct committeeperson must attend a meeting of the SCDP, be introduced to the membership, and then file an application with our Membership Committee. Prospective members must attend a second meeting at which their application will be acted upon, must be elected by a majority vote, and must then take an oath of office prescribed by the Florida Democratic Committee. (SCDP Bylaws – Article IV/Category I/Section A)

What are some Precinct Committeeman/woman responsibilities?

The main job of a Precinct Committeeman/woman is to serve as the link between our local party and the voters in your precinct.  There are a number of ways you can do this – and the party will help you with all of them.  We provide regular trainings and always have leaders available to answer questions.  And attending the SCDP monthly meeting will keep you up to date and informed.  We meet on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, usually at the Waldemere Fire Station, but the location and date may vary occasionally, so check the Sarasota County Democratic Party website ( to be sure.

By the way, this is an excellent time to become a Precinct Committeeman/woman, as our next major election is not until 2018, so you will have time to move gradually into your new role. 

And have we mentioned that being a Precinct Committeeman/woman can be a wonderful way to meet like-minded people in your community – and that it can even be fun?

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Precinct Committeeman/woman, please contact me at this email address and I will connect you with your Precinct Area Leader.    

We need you — now more than ever.   Our new motto:  Don’t Agonize . . . Help Us Organize!


JoAnne DeVries, Chair

Sarasota County Democratic Party