County saying goodbye to outgoing commissioners Barbetta, Patterson
SARASOTA COUNTY – Two familiar faces will soon be gone from the Board of County Commissioners as Joe Barbetta and Nora Patterson, with a combined 24 years of experience representing Sarasota County as elected officials, prepare to leave office this month.
Barbetta, who has served on the commission since 2006, and Patterson, first elected in 1998, are stepping away due to term limits. They will attend their last county commission meeting as elected officials Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
In the years since they first relocated to Sarasota County – both are native New Yorkers – and decided to seek public office here, they’ve witnessed tremendous change and growth. In many cases they’ve played an active role, although both are quick to point out they couldn’t have accomplished anything without the cooperation and collaboration with their fellow board members, county staff and the community.
“But maybe if I hadn’t been as strongly supportive, some of those things might not have happened,” said Patterson. “It’s very satisfying just to know in my heart that I played at least a small role in many good things happening in our community.”
Among those good things: The protection of park lands and environmentally sensitive lands, Patterson noted, pointing to the county’s purchases of about 50 acres of pasture, wetlands and woods on Bee Ridge Road and Honore Avenue to be turned into a park and another 115 acres in north Sarasota that is to be used for a public sports complex.
“I particularly love parks,” Patterson said. “And there are quite a few parks that wouldn’t be there if our commission at the time hadn’t championed them.”
Barbetta shares that love of parks, listing the county’s role in a public-private partnership to bring a world-class rowing facility and the 2017 World Rowing Championships to Nathan Benderson Park as one of his favorite accomplishments from his time in office.
“That’s a passion of mine, the rowing and seeing the kids that have gone through those programs and go to college,” Barbetta said. “To know that we’re going to have that in 2017 is pretty special.”
Another milestone achievement in sports tourism during Barbetta’s and Patterson’s tenures came when the community landed the Baltimore Orioles for spring training, ensuring that Major League Baseball would still have a home in Sarasota County following the Cincinnati Reds’ departure in 2009.
For Patterson, ongoing projects to improve Siesta Beach and to build a new Gulf Gate Library are two favorite accomplishments from her time in office that will be enjoyed by the public for years after she leaves.
“I think Sarasota County is a very special place, and I think that the commission, in directing public funds to some of the things that make the community special, has certainly played a role, and I’m very proud of that,” she said.
Both commissioners said they feel confident in the leadership and direction of the county as they prepare to step away from public office, having navigated through a significant economic downturn and the challenges that came with it. They also noted the recognition Sarasota County has earned during their service, from Siesta Beach’s 2011 selection as the Best Beach in America to the library system’s ranking as 2012 Library of the Year by the Florida Library Association.
The two outgoing commissioners will be recognized at the start of Wednesday’s 9 a.m. meeting during a special ceremony.
Barbetta’s and Patterson’s last day on the job will be Nov. 17. The next day, two newly elected commissioners are scheduled to be sworn in and attend their first meeting while in office.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.