Susan Chapman will make an excellent City Commissioner
Originally published April 27, 2013 in SRQ Daily
There has been plenty of negative rhetoric lobbed against City Commission candidate Susan Chapman —dubbing her one of “three witches,” dismissing “white haired ladies” who are “the past” (one local commentator added “one of those white haired ladies who dyes her hair is Chapman, okay?”). Opponents of Susan Chapman have characterized residents involved in local politics (many Chapman supporters) as “neighborhood zealots.” Despite the cheap shots, Susan Chapman came in first on March 12th, with over 44 percent of the vote among six candidates.
Susan Chapman is an accomplished attorney practicing for more than 35 years whose public service activities demonstrate her extensive commitment to our community. Susan received the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award in 1997 for representing four children in securing adoption by their foster family. She was honored by the Supreme Court for her efforts on behalf of the Guardian Ad Litem program in 1996. She is still called upon by the courts to represent the legal interests of children, and has been a volunteer judge for teen court for more than 20 years.
Susan was the first president of the Women’s Legal Fund, taking it from an idea to a functioning program providing legal services to working poor families. She represented Albert Abrams, a neighborhood activist in Newtown, when he was falsely accused of felony third degree child abuse after he stood up to neighborhood children vandalizing homes by throwing rocks through windows. The case was dismissed.
When John Benson Waterman, a convicted murderer and rapist (in Chapman’s Hudson Bayou neighborhood), was scheduled to be released from prison last year after serving 20 years of a 50-year sentence, she worked with neighbors in successfully pursuing his commitment as a violent sexual predator.
Susan has served as her neighborhood president for five years and serves on the City Planning Board and Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations (aka “neighborhood zealots”). She legally represented CCNA before the Department of Community Affairs in opposing quadruple density in downtown Sarasota (200 units per acre) in the name of transportation concurrency (preventing congestion). Contrary to her critics’ claims, Susan does support strategic increased density in the City. She is committed to sound standards and will not adopt an “anything goes” approach.
Fourteen mayors now endorse Susan, and former County Commissioner David Mills as well.
It serves the interests of some to make their opposition appear as crazy and unreasonable as possible. The intended audience—busy people who aren’t fully plugged into local government issues—often adopt a “the truth is in the middle” position as they sift through the rhetoric. When that is the case, then outrageous, extreme and damaging statements serve a useful purpose. Those statements move the “middle”—the supposed zone of truth—more toward those making the outrageous, extreme and damaging statements.
The truth is, Susan Chapman is an excellent, qualified candidate who will serve our community with integrity and intelligence. I am proud to support her for City Commission.