In a Q&A published yesterday, Sarasota Mayor Kelly Kirschner announced that he will not seek reelection during the city’s next round of elections, citing a need to focus on his “family’s personal and financial balance and well-being.” Kirschner also discussed the recent vote by the Sarasota City Commission to accept the renewal of its 30-year franchise agreement with Florida Power & Light, rather than continue to press for greater freedom in crafting a renewable future for the city.
Kirschner was the leading voice for those who argued that the city could only become a renewable energy leader by ditching its contract with FPL, which guarantees the utility giant a three-decade monopoly in exchange for a cut of the city’s energy bills. Before the final vote on the issue was taken, Kirschner delivered an impassioned speech in an attempt to push his fellow commissioners to reconsider the long-term consequences of signing with FPL but was unable to alter the outcome.
In yesterday’s Q&A (published in the Sarasota edition of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing — where, full disclosure, I used to work), Kirschner discussed his decision to not seek reelection and the FPL vote:
The FPL decision and the way that it went was unfortunate. Had that gone on and we had a longer conversation, I think that this decision would have been much more difficult to make because it was something that I was putting a lot of pressure on. I was very interested to see it through as successfully as possible. But by virtue of the fact at our last meeting the (FPL) decision was made, it made this decision that much more “easy” — if that’s the way to put it — for me.
Unfortunately I have been on the losing end of a number of votes. I have regret on those votes that I was not able to either mobilize citizenry or be more persuasive at the table to win and claw back two additional votes to change an issue. I think some of these issues that have been on the losing side were really significant to our city and how we project ourselves to the world, how we get to the place that we should, and want to be in the years to come for our children to inherit.