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News Section: Local Government

DiSabatino to Seek Reelection to Manatee County Commission

Published Tuesday, January 7, 2014 12:05 am

BRADENTON – On Monday, Manatee County District 4 Commissioner Robin DiSabatino filed to seek reelection in November's race. In her first three years representing the south county district, DiSabatino has built a strong reputation as an independent-minded scrapper, who's not afraid to push back against powerful interests in order to stand up for what she believes to be best for her constituents.

A quick study, DiSabatino has proven herself a dedicated commissioner who always shows up for meetings with stacks of documentation, a litany of thoughtful questions and insight gained from speaking with constituents. The first-term commissioner says that preparation is a big part of the job.


“I always do my homework, research the issues and ask questions of staff,” she explained. “But most of all, you have to get out there, drive to the communities we're making decisions on and talk to the people who are going to be impacted one way or the other. Those are the people we work for.”

After raising more than $100,000 for her 2010 run, the former real estate agent faced skepticism from many smart-growth groups who felt that her close ties to developers indicated that she was just another empty suit. DiSabatino said that earning the support of her skeptics has been one of her proudest accomplishments while serving the board.

DiSabatino said that when Sandy Marshall of the Federation of Manatee County Community Associations sent her a letter saying that though they feared she'd be just another “darling of the developers,” but turned out to be a “darling of the people,” it was one of her proudest moments.

“It's been a thrill and an honor to serve the people of this district,” said DiSabatino. “District 4 is a microcosm of Manatee County. We have waterfront; we have agricultural; we have heavy industry and residential. I really feel that, as goes district 4, so goes Manatee County and there's a lot of work that remains to be done.”

The commissioner says that the current rewrite of the Land Development Code is an issue she's paying particularly close attention to, in order to make sure changes respect an approach that is fair and equitable to all stakeholders, not just a privileged few.

DiSabatino won praise for her work with the South County CRA and has invested much of her energy into exploring ideas that might breathe life into the blighted urban core, on and around the U.S. 41 corridor in south county. Together with the Urban Service Area, she thinks that as long as adequate energy is focused on revitalization and not just new development, south county can reemerge as a strong economic engine that helps to drive the county's future.

How Will We Grow is largely focused on south county,” said DiSabatino. “If we have the emphasis on the right things, we can continue to make it a vibrant business community that draws people to that part of the county. (Property) Values appear to be on the upswing, which will direct more monies to the CRA's and give us more opportunity to invest in that area's future.”

DiSabatino is among three commissioners on the seven-member board who are up for reelection in November of 2014. Commissioners Michael Gallen and Carol Whitmore have already filed to run for reelection. So far, DiSabatino faces only one opponent, Tim Norwood, who is once again seeking the Republican nomination for the seat. The two will face off in an August primary. DiSabatino won a three-way Republican primary in 2010. If no Democrat files to run, the August primary will be an open race.

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