Newly elected Commissioner goes after local entrepreneur in interview

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SARASOTA, Fla. - Sarasota's newly-elected Commissioner hit the airwaves Thursday morning and had some choice words for one of the area's most well known entrepreneurs.

Susan Chapman, who was voted in Tuesday night, appeared on AM 1280's "The Wrecking Crew" morning show on Thursday. The hosts immediately asked her about Jesse Biter, an entrepreneur, who supported Richard Dorfman in the election. Biter has plans to develop and build some new venues in the Downtown area, designed with  young professionals in mind.

"I think Jesse Biter is a newcomer," said Chapman. He's new at the development community. I think he would be more successful if he aligned himself with a more experienced developer who knew about the history of the city."

Biter has lived in Sarasota for the past 13 years.

"I'm going to continue to push for pro-growth, and pro-development in the Downtown area where we really want to focus our energy on young professionals, entrepreneurs and artists," said Biter. It's what's needed for growth and it's what's needed for the future of Sarasota."

Chapman says she "wants a place for the youth, and for entertainment" but does not agree with Biter's vision.

"I don't think Sarasota wants to be Austin, Texas, which is what Jesse Biter wants," said Chapman on the radio show. One person should not define the image of a city or the vision of a city."

Chapman expressed her concerns for the residents living in some of the Downtown condos who have complained in the past about music and crowd noise coming from some of the bars.

"There is an issue called social responsibility. At all hours of the night, you don't have the right to make all sorts of noise," said Chapman.

Biter calls Chapman, "a smart woman," but says the city's younger population should be forewarned.  "The under 50, the under 40, and the under 30 crowd should absolutely be concerned," he said.

Chapman did not return our phone calls for comment. She did say on the radio program that she does not support a moratorium on new downtown bars and restaurants. However, she would not say whether she backs Biter's plan to build a pub on 2nd Street.

Chapman and Suzanne Atwell will be sworn in on Friday.