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Sarasota City Hall: The Annual Changing of the Guards

Written by on Thursday, November 16, 2023

City commission hands over the gavel to Liz Alpert.

By Ramon Lopez

Original Air Date: Nov. 15, 2023

Host: In the City of Sarasota, being mayor is a mostly ceremonial, one-year job, and – as has been practice – almost each of the five commissioners gets their turn. However, the mayor also holds the gavel in commission meetings. And, given repeated and ongoing efforts to end Sarasota’s weak-mayor tradition, the handing over of the gavel on Monday is noteworthy. Ramon Lopez reports.  

 Ramon Lopez: There was a standard changing of the guard at Sarasota City Hall on Monday morning.

Kyle Battie is no longer mayor, replaced by District 2 City Commissioner Liz Alpert. She was unanimously selected as the new mayor and chair of the city commission, for a second time.

Battie isn’t going anywhere. He will continue to serve out his four-year term on the city commission, which ends next year.

It’s a one-year term for the largely ceremonial position, but the mayor has lots of responsibilities, including participating in numerous events about town.

At-large Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch was unanimously selected to serve as vice mayor. Alpert and Ahearn-Koch will serve in their respective new roles until November 2024.

Mayor Liz Alpert and Vice Mayor Jen-Ahearn Koch. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

Each November, as required by the City of Sarasota Charter, the city commission meets to elect one of its members as mayor and also elect a vice mayor.

Battie ended his term as Sarasota City’s mayor with some thoughtful comments.

Kyle Battie: To manage the growth of our city, we must respect each other and the varied opinions that inevitably come with change. I’m proud of the progress our city has made during this last year. The commission unanimously adopted zoning text amendments that laid the groundwork for incentivizing new development to incorporate attainable housing in our great city. It is with a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude as I look back at this past year, and excitement as I look forward to the future and the direction and guidance of our new mayor. It’s been an esteemed honor, a privilege, a blessing, and I can’t thank you all enough, and no matter how much I thank you it’ll never be enough. Thank you so very much, and I wish you all nothing but blessings and abundance. Thank you.

RL: Liz Alpert says she’s looking forward to filling in for Battie as city mayor.

Liz Alpert:  It will be my pleasure to serve as mayor again, and I’m so glad to be part of a city that has so many residents that want to make a difference. Thank you all very much, and I’m looking forward to a really exciting new year. We’ve got a lot of things coming up. Thank you.

RL: Battie represents District 1 and grew up there. He has a long family history in the community. He moved back to Sarasota eight years ago. Liz Alpert is a family law attorney in Sarasota. Ahearn-Koch is a marketing communications executive who studied in Paris and New York City.

This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News.

WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.