Sarasota City Commission may soon be a partisan panel--at least temporarily

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A shift may be underway at Sarasota City Hall. Two City Commissioners are stepping down to run against each other for County Commission. The three remaining City Commissioners will be in charge of appointing their replacements.

It's a story with a lot of layers.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is unprecedented and the first time this has ever happened," said Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin.

"City Commission is in the final stages of the review process to select candidates in November," Barwin said.

And though the replacements will only serve about seven months, it could be a wild ride.

"The three remaining city commissioners are more moderate to liberal, I don't think they're going to fill those spots with conservatives," said New College Political Science Professor Frank Alcock.

"You will see a shift toward the preferences of the remaining three city commissioners," he predicted.

City Hall observers say this shift could put an end to talk of a new homeless shelter. Two key votes for it are stepping down, and two key votes against it are in charge of finding their replacements.

It may not be a long-term situation: The appointed commissioners take their seats in November. Election day is in March, and whomever the voters choose will take over in May.