BRADENTON – Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino has by no means been on the winning side of every vote since being elected in 2010. Indeed, the former real estate agent has often found herself at odds with the board's majority, dissenting on issues that affect things like smart growth, mining and the small businesses in her district. For many of her constituents, that's just fine. In the view of her supporters, the BOCC had been lacking healthy debate for some time and a little healthy dissent can go a long way.
"I take great pride in helping make a difference by letting people know someone is listening to them and someone truly cares about their needs and their concerns," says DiSabatino, who will seek reelection this year to her District 4 seat on the Manatee County Commission.
She and her husband Robert moved to Manatee County 12 years ago for the quality of life the county had to offer. As a licensed Realtor, DiSabatino worked with Michael Saunders and Company as a Broker Associate, until her election to District 4 in 2010; when she placed her license on Referral Status.
As a former Realtor, many voters were concerned that DiSabatino would be just another pro-development vote, but the commissioner has shown she's not afraid to say no to developers when their requests don't seem to serve the best interests of county residents.
"I am a fighter, and I stand up for what's right. I am not afraid to tackle the tough, controversial issues," says DiSabatino.
When DiSabatino assesses her first four years in office, she looks to the Tallevast area with pride. She worked to keep the Manasota Mail Processing Plant from closing; helped keep the Bradenton Bridge (a women's transition center) from shuttering; and was instrumental in the success of the Whitfield dredging project.
DiSabatino said she worked hand-in-hand with new and existing companies, large and small businesses, as well as the private sector and with educational and community leaders. Their mission? Jobs Now.
"We must continue on this path and create vibrant, year-round jobs for those who are still seeking employment, and we need to make sure there are ample opportunities for the upcoming generations. We are facing huge economic and societal burdens which must be addressed ranging from health care to animal services to quality of life issues."
DiSabatino feels certain that over the last four years she has demonstrated leadership skills. She has voiced objection to the current commission's surrender of authority and decision making powers over to the staff and administration, "Because what we are truly facing is the underlying problem of the lack of trust, transparency and accountability of our local government."
From the Long Bar Pointe development to the proposed indigent care sales tax, Commissioner DiSabatino has shown that she'll go against the grain to represent the interests and address the concerns of average citizens over powerful special interests and as a result, she's built a core of populist support that crosses both sides of the aisle.
"It is my opinion that there is an absolutely critical need to change that culture by which we have been doing the people's work," says DiSabatino, "and I intend to lead the charge."
No Democrat has filed to run for the district 4 seat. DiSabatino faces Tim Norwood in the August Republican Primary, whom she defeated in a three-way race in 2010. Because the primary contains the only two candidates for the seat, it will be open to all voters, regardless of party registration.
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