Election 2016

Sarasotans Respond to Donald Trump's Election

A group of business leaders, students, artists and more tell us what Donald Trump's election means for them.

By Sarasota Magazine Staff November 28, 2016

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After the 2016 election, Sarasota Magazine asked a group of Sarasotans for their thoughts on what Donald Trump’s victory means for their lives and work. Here's what they had to say.

Readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts, as well. Feel free to do so in the comment section, and please remember to keep the conversation civil and respectful.

Denver Stutler

Former chief of staff for Gov. Jeb Bush, now CEO of Polston Applied Technologies in Sarasota

“I can only assume that Republican principles will be forthcoming. We’ll probably see a conservative court, increased spending on infrastructure, regulatory relief and lower taxes. And predictability on health care. Change costs money and energy. When we project, we need predictability for a year. If my insurance rates are uncertain, that results in ultraconservative business decisions. We have the need and we see the opportunity to hire, but we’re hesitant. When I look at adding five people that’s a real risk. Knowing that taxes are not going to go up or will go down means I can commit to more people, more jobs.”

Richard Rescigno

Financial journalist

“As a journalist, I can see negatives and positives. We’re going to observe someone getting on-the-job training in governing while heading a nation that has become increasingly tough to govern because of the deep political divisions. I’ve lived in New York and I'm very familiar with the pompous, self-promoting Donald Trump who was a staple of the tabloid gossip pages. It will be fascinating to see if he can grow into the statesman the Sarasota GOP comically anointed him a couple of times. Whether he does or doesn't, that will provide a bonanza of stories. That's the positive. 

“The negative is the media's credibility is at a low, and the likelihood of it sinking lower is high. Trump's triumph will encourage the growth and intensity of ideological ‘news’—Breitbart, Fox, MSNBC, etc. And Trump repeatedly has denounced the media as biased and untruthful, and there's no reason to think his fans will cease to agree with him. So it's going to become tougher to convince people that whatever one writes isn't propaganda. It also may become harder to get them to talk meaningfully.”

Jim Lewis

Owner, Euduz hair salon

“I was a Trump supporter until he aligned himself with the extreme right to sway votes. I saw then that he didn’t really stand for anything. So now I don’t know what he’s going to do. It remains to be seen. Maybe my taxes will go down, but I am concerned about another cycle of trickle-down economics. I hope he can get Congress passing laws and working again. 

“I’m gay, and my husband entered the country illegally, but it may be surprising to hear that I am not worried about President Trump’s actions on immigration affecting us negatively. I’m sponsoring my husband through the consular process—he will have to leave and come back legally, something Obama made easier to do. Trump has said he wants to send illegal immigrants back and then bring them back legally, and that is just what we’re doing.”

Nate Yoder

Marketing director, Mullet’s Aluminum Products, Inc.

“Our region is so dependent on construction and a lot of people are coming to Florida, so we’ve been blessed with a strong economy. But other pockets around the country are suffering. President Trump will revive the economy throughout the country and keep our local economy strong. We don’t want to have a repetition of 2008, 2009, 2010. Trump’s pro-business, less-regulation, less-government stance should translate into helping businesses grow and compete.

“We offer health care benefits to our 200 full-time employees, but maybe rates will go down because there will be more competition across state lines. And about 10-15 percent of our employees are Hispanic and I’ve heard no concern from them whatsoever. There’s relief that the election is behind us and we can move forward. There’s a little bit of nervousness because of the change, which happens every time we get a new president. Time will tell." 

Johannes Werner

Editor, Cuba Standard

“Most industry players are slightly optimistic about Trump the businessman having a good relationship with Cuba. Trump says many things, then he says the opposite. In the Republican primary, he was the only Republican candidate in favor of normalization with Cuba, but in the course of the hot last weeks of the campaign he traveled to Miami and appealed to the few Cuban hardliners that are left [by saying he was against normalizing relations with Cuba]. It hasn’t helped him in Miami. Miami went 66 percent for Hillary, and the Cuban-American vote is much more split today than it ever has been. So Trump doesn’t owe anything to anti-Castro hardliners. I just hope the U.S.-Cuba relationship will not be held hostage as much to domestic politics as it used to be.” 

Chris Laney

Director of Education & Community Investment, CareerSource Suncoast

“There are two areas of possible advantages for small businesses under a Trump administration: corporate tax cuts and health care. If Trump can decrease the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and can somehow help reduce the health care burden on employers, we could see huge economic returns in our region.” 

Kameron Hodgens

Executive director and CEO, Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center 

“My biggest concern is what he does with Obamacare. For many of the individuals served on our campus, that is their health care funding. One hundred thousand people enrolled in Obamacare the day after the election—that shows how great the need is. It’s scary. Medicare funding for our state is abysmal, and funding for mental health is even worse. I’m trying to feel positive about Trump’s statement that he will ‘repeal and replace.’ But what are we going to get as a replacement? Best case would be that Gov. Scott likes what President Trump does as a replacement and decides to expand Medicaid here, but that’s probably pie-in-the-sky thinking. But I do believe there are enough people with enough goodness in our community to try to trump any negative issues that come out of this.”

Jennifer Shafer

Partner in Shafer Consulting, specialists in science policy issues

“My primary concern is whether President-Elect Trump addresses climate change. There’s been a lot of progress bringing attention to these issues. President Obama had to align federal agencies to get on top of the issue. Now they’re providing technical support and grants to communities like ours to plan for everything from sea level rise and ocean acidification to increased temperatures. 

“Now I don’t know what will happen. There’s been a lot of rhetoric. Environmental professionals are fearful and watchful. What happens at the United States federal level affects people locally—and internationally.

“But I am trying to be hopeful. In the last five years, there’s been so much more coverage and awareness; real people in real communities are feeling the effects of climate change, and a bipartisan Congressional group has formed around the issue. With or without federal leadership, the movement will continue.” 

Terry O’Brien

President, First Benefits Group, Inc.

“I don’t think anything will happen in health care in the next 12 months. The Trump administration doesn’t know what they’re going to do yet. He can’t just trash the system. And the wheels move slowly on changing it. He’s said he’ll keep the provisions of people with pre-existing conditions and parents will be able to keep children up to the age of 26 on their plans—and that’s good. But how it’s going to work, I don’t know.

“Prior to the Affordable Care Act, the situation wasn’t good—but it was much better than it is now. The only individual insurer left in our market is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida—everyone else was incurring huge losses and pulled out. Young people never signed up, and people who are healthy are paying for the sick and poor; and if they’re fairly affluent, they’re getting their brains beat out on premiums—especially people in their 50s and 60s. We have a couple in that age range with a teenager; they’re paying $1,500 a month. Another with better benefits is paying $3,000 a month. On the group side, it’s more competitive; the individual side is the issue. But wherever there’s chaos, there’s opportunity.”

Nate Quinn

Student, University of Florida

“I put a couple of pictures of protesters blocking traffic on Fruitville on Instagram and this girl I used to swim with, her mom came at me, saying, ‘This is stupid. You’re not changing anything. I hope somebody hits you with their car because you’re not contributing anything to society.’ It was a pretty serious threat, but it’s not the first one I’ve gotten and I’m sure it’s not the last one. For anyone who is outwardly not OK with us having Donald Trump as our president-elect, it’s probably going to happen. But I don’t think anything like this would ever change my activism.” 

John Scotese

Senior attorney, 12th Judicial Circuit Court Public Defender

“There will be more federal law enforcement grants given, more money pumped into the states on the law enforcement side, and that will embolden conservative Republicans and especially Gov. Scott to continue to not properly fund the court system. If law enforcement is given X number of dollars, that gives them more money to pay detectives for overtime and the detectives can help out the state attorney’s office more, and so the public defender’s office will take it on the chin. Criminal justice reform has never been a priority with Republican legislators, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words ‘criminal justice’ and ‘reform’ used in the same sentence by President-Elect Trump.”

Michael D. McNiven

Managing director and portfolio manager, Cumberland Advisors

“Lots of things could go wrong, but the hysteria that the markets were going to crash was over in two hours after he was elected. The markets have already determined we’re going to enter a period of growth. Interest rates have gone up half a percent in six days. That’s impressive and he hasn’t even done anything yet.

“He’ll either be a fantastic failure or a fantastic president. I doubt he’ll be in the middle. He’s not ideological; he’s more practically oriented. He likes to see things working. Most people of a Democratic leaning say, ‘If we could spend more on infrastructure, schools and hospitals, we could stimulate the economy.’ The other side is saying, ‘Let small business people get some confidence about the future that their taxes are going to be lower and the health care system is going to be fixed.’ I think he’ll be doing both. The people who hate him the most will end up liking him and the people who supported him may not end up being as happy. When you get outside the bombast, he’s a practical guy. I’m willing to give him a shot.”

Emad Al-Maqtary

Student, Ringling College of Art and Design 

“I went to Walmart and a man asked me if I’ve already booked my flight. I said, ‘What?’ He smiled and said, ‘It’s OK, if you don’t have money our government is going to ship you on boats back to where the f--k you come from.’ I smiled and kept on walking and he kept on screaming that soon he will see my dead body on the news and that will make him happy and he was talking about Syrians and refugees. I come from Yemen. This is my third year as a student. I haven’t faced anything like this here in Sarasota. You feel very excluded, like you don’t belong in the community, and once you’re excluded from your home you just can’t wait to finish your mission and figure out where to go next.”

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