Current County Commission chairman and former city commissioner Paul Caragiulo is encouraging more people to vote in the city election.

Paul Caragiulo wants to talk about ‘E’ word — elections

Local politico Paul Caragiulo wants to talk to you about the dreaded “E” word: Elections.

In a cheeky video uploaded to YouTube last week, the Sarasota County Commission chairman and former city commissioner pleads with voters to turn out for the upcoming city elections — which typically draw embarrassingly low voters compared with general elections such as November’s.

“For many of you out there right now, I’m sure the last word you want to hear is the word ‘election,'” the video begins. “So in this video I promise not to say it any more than is absolutely necessary. In fact, I’m not going to say it at all. I’m going to use ‘e-word’ instead.”

The video explains the basics of the spring election for the City Commission’s two at-large seats and how to cast early or absentee votes. Eight candidates have filed for the March 14 election and a potential two- or three-candidate May 9 runoff.

But Caragiulo laments that the city’s elections typically attract “very, very low” turnouts, with only about 20 percent of eligible voters casting ballots in the last at-large commission election in 2013. And that’s relatively high for a city election.

When Caragiulo was first elected to his District 2 seat on the City Commission in 2011, for example, only 17 percent of voters cast ballots. Caragiulo won the seat with 1,726 votes — only 12 more than incumbent Dick Clapp, election results show.

“Life is busy; I know it. Many of us are moving at a million miles an hour and you can see how something like this might fall through the cracks and not get the attention,” Caragiulo says in the video. “But this stuff is important: we need people to participate … Local government has a tremendous effect on many of your quality of life issues.”

The video is making the rounds on Facebook and now has a few hundred views YouTube (though it probably woulda had more if the classically trained opera singer had shown off his pipes). It may not have an enormous impact, but Caragiulo said he hopes it at least encourages a few voters who wouldn’t otherwise participate.

Last year Caragiulo was among several local leaders who vocally supported a planned referendum on whether to move the city elections to November, arguing it would increase voter turnout. But the City Commission chose not to support that plan.

“My plan is very simple: I’d like more people to vote,” Caragiulo said earlier this week. “Whoever wins, at least the result would be more legitimate. At least there will be more ink on the page.”

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