SARASOTA COUNTY – The leaders of “STOP!” now find themselves in the driver’s seat in the city’s ongoing conversation about growth.

From wider sidewalks to new traffic studies to public hearings, the group’s recommendations have become the center of the city’s debate about development projects amid the billion–dollar construction boom.

The Herald Tribune says, The “STOP!” platform dominated the spring’s race for two seats on the City Commission, with one of the group’s founders, Jen Ahearn–Koch, installed to an at–large seat representing the entire city.

Now, two women sympathetic to the group also serve on the city’s Planning Board, co–founder and former city commissioner Eileen Normile and Kathy Kelly Ohlrich, who helped manage Ahearn–Koch’s campaign.

Even though the group’s ideas are opposed by many in the community, the local debate now almost exclusively revolves around supporting or rebutting the group’s core arguments.