This being the "Best of the Best" issue, our interview is with Michael Saunders, the most influential unelected person in the community. A native, Saunders has a long perspective and deep love for Sarasota.
Q: Looking back on your long business career in Sarasota, what surprises you the most?
A: That there aren't more people here. Having grown up and spent my entire business life here, well, it's like being part of paradise. We've got beauty and culture and you can safely walk anywhere-I guess I just don't understand why everybody doesn't want to be here.
Q: And what's your biggest disappointment in the community?
A: We put our heads in the sand and just didn't really plan for growth. We could have protected the character of our community far better with better planning and execution. It's not the fault of our current leadership, but all the leadership in the past. We've got to make the future the very best we can but also understand there's no turning back anymore-we've become an urban center and from now on, we're always going to be that.
Q: Living your life in what many consider a vacation paradise, where do you vacation?
A: You know, every time I vacation someplace else I always end up coming back and wondering why I went away. That said, I love new experiences and love to travel, especially to Ireland and Italy. Actually, I love to fish anywhere. But most of all I love that first whiff of real salt air when I come home to Sarasota.
Q: How do you like your mullet best-smoked or fried-and where?
A: Boy, that's a toss-up. Fried, I guess, by my brother, Tom Mayers, who dusts it lightly with corn meal and drops it into a great, seasoned cast-iron skillet.
Q: What keeps you awake at night?
A: Not a single thing. I'm the best sleeper you'll ever know-and that's the truth. I do everything I can during the day to take care of whatever's bothering me, and when the day is over, so is the worrying.