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Local Elections Dashboard

Local School Board and County District election information will be posted here. Stay tuned!

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An ongoing series of articles on local elections

Atkins Enters District 2 County Commission Race

April 11, 2022

This Fall, the Sarasota County Commission District 2 and 4 seats are up for election. So far, four Democrats have filed to challenge Christian Ziegler for the District 2 seat. Hagen Brody, Andrew Bevan, Fredd Atkins and Mike Cosentino will face off in the August primary.


Although Ziegler has not filed to run yet, he told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he intends to do so. Republicans Mark Hawkins and Joseph Neunder have filed to run for the District 4 Commission seat currently held by Alan Maio (Maio is term-limited). At this point no Democrat has filed to run. The filing deadline is June 17.


A Democrat has not served on the Commission for over 50 years. With single member districts in place, a Democratic candidate has a chance to win the District 2 seat. District 2 is the only one in Sarasota County with more registered Democrats than Republicans. All other districts have at least 10,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.


Hagen Brody has served on the Sarasota City Commission since 2017. Brody is a Sarasota native and worked as a state prosecutor before being elected to the City Commission. His tenure on the City Commission has not been without controversy. He frequently butted heads with former City Manager Tom Barwin and in 2021 he got into a shouting match with City Manager Marlon Brown over the City’s failure to include Brody in a promotional video related to a Covid vaccination clinic.


Three staff members filed complaints with HR after the outburst saying they felt intimidated, threatened, with some equating the incident to a violent "hostage situation." Brody has received endorsements for the County Commission race from School Board Members Jane Goodwin, Tom Edwards, and Shirley Brown. As of March 18, he has raised over $25,000 for his campaign. Brody did not respond to interview requests.

Andrew Bevan filed to run on February 14th. He does not have contact information listed, nor does he have a presence online.


His campaign treasurer’s report for February lists no contributions and no expenditures.

Like Brody, Mike Cosentino is a Sarasota native. He works as a general contractor and owns a construction company. Cosentino first became active on the local political scene during his campaign to re-open Beach Road after the County vacated it in 2016.


The campaign is what inspired Cosentino to run for County Commission. He ran for a County Commission seat in 2018 but lost in the Democratic primary to Wesley Beggs. Cosentino explained, “Litigating against the County for five years has basically shown me that … we have no representation. I want to give the people a voice. I want to be the people’s voice in the community.”


Cosentino sees unregulated development as one of the County’s top issues, and one interconnected with two other key concerns. In his words, there are “three issues in Sarasota County, and they’re all basically peas in the same pod: lack of infrastructure, overdevelopment, and environmental degradation.”

The latest Democrat to enter the race is Fredd Atkins.


A native of Sarasota, Atkins served on the Sarasota City Commission for 18 years. He lost three previous races for a County Commission seat, but in the previous county elections Atkins had to run countywide. Atkins was set to run against Commissioner Mike Moran in 2020, but the County Commission made the decision to redistrict in advance of the 2020 census and the new boundaries moved Sarasota's Newtown neighborhood (where Atkins lives) from District 1 into District 2 thus taking him out of the race.


 In explaining why he was running for County Commission, Atkins said, “For too long this commission has turned its back on the citizens of the county by allowing over-development, ignoring key environmental issues and not facilitating access to affordable housing for everyone.”


Current Commissioner Christian Ziegler was elected in November 2018. He currently serves as the vice chair. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Ziegler has worked for the Florida House of Representatives and for U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan. He also started the small business Microtargeted Media.


Ziegler did not respond to interview requests.

For information on other races coming up this Fall, as well as voter registration and information, visit sarasotavotes.gov.

Looking Ahead at the Sarasota County School Board Elections

April 10, 2022

In the last two years, we have seen School Board meetings become the center of national debates about mask mandates and social justice education. Despite the fact that School Boards are non-partisan, school board meetings have become a hotbed for political arguments. State Senator Joe Gruters’ efforts to make school board elections partisan has added fuel to the fire, and these might be our most political school board elections in a long time.

In August, the Sarasota School District will hold election for three spots on the Board.


So far, seven candidates are running for the seats. Judging by the total contributions each candidate has, each District race has a clear favorite. For District 1, Dawnyelle Singleton has enough monetary support to challenge incumbent Bridget Ziegler. Lauren Kurnov for District 4 has five times as many contributions as her opponent, Robyn Marinelli. In the District 5 race, Nora Cietek has the largest amount of contributions by far – with Timothy Enos and Gregory Wood trailing.


District 1: Ziegler v. Singleton

Incumbent Bridget Ziegler from District 1 is an outspoken republican conservative that has gained national notoriety and an endorsement from governor Ron DeSantis. Ziegler’s political work goes beyond the school board. She is also the co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a non profit that campaigns against COVID-19 restrictions in schools, school curriculum that mention LGBT rights, race, critical race theory, and discrimination.


According to Ziegler’s campaign website, her platform focuses on the “protection of parental rights, opposing indoctrination – including Critical Race Theory – working for taxpayers and supporting our teachers & students.” According to data from the Supervisor of Elections, Ziegler has accrued $35,314 in contributions.


Ziegler’s sole competitor is Dawnyelle Singleton, a Sarasota native running on a platform focusing on increasing the quality of life for local teachers. She is also a staunch supporter of mental health initiatives for students. Singleton is member of the Sarasota Black Caucus and NAACP chapter. Singleton is a newcomer to local elections, but has already gathered $56,196 in contributions as of March 14th.


District 4: Kurnov v. Marinelli

Shirley Brown’s seat, District 4, is up for grabs as Brown is term-limited out. The two contenders for her seat are Lauren Kurnov and Robyn Marinelli. Both candidates have extensive background in local schooling.


According to her website Martinelli has over 20 years working directly with local students, and spent the last 15 years of her career as a district-level administrator, overseeing Student Services for the Sarasota County School District. Marinelli has the endorsement of the Republican Party of Sarasota. She has accrued $19,000 dollars in campagin contributions.


Lauren Kurnov has an extensive background in higher education. She worked in Student Outreach and Success for two local universities: University of South Florida-Manatee and New College of Florida. Kurnov is running on student-first platform that focuses on career opportunities, college placement, and maintaining Sarasota School’s “A” rating.


Regarding recent School Board controversies, her website states:” Lauren is committed to running a positive, no-nonsense campaign that focuses solely on the success of our schools, not on fighting a proxy battle in a culture war.” Kurnov has a strong lead in contributions, with $111,282


District 5: Cietek v. Wood v. Enos

Current board chairwoman Jane Goodwin is retiring at the end of year as well, and her District 5 seat has already attracted four aspiring board members.


Nora Cietek currently holds the lead in campaign contributions with a total $43,076. Cietek is a former principal from New York who specialized in special education. Cietek received a direct endorsement from Goodwin. According to her website, Cietek has a no-nonsense approach to school board politics: “We have been distracted by political issues that have prevented us from doing the real work of the school board. This is a huge disservice to our students.”


Cietek is a self-declared fiscal conservative who aims to ensure that school board spending is efficient and serves the interests of the community: “If elected, my job, and the job of every school board member will be to balance the needs of our students, teachers, and staff against our responsibility to be prudent stewards of county taxpayer dollars.“


Opposing Cietek is Gregory Wood, a local business owner who is running a campaign focused on parental rights, classical education and accountability. On his website, Wood writes: “Parents and families must retain the right to make all decisions regarding their children’s health, education, and future; not teachers' unions, nor administrators, nor school board members. We parents raise our kids.”


Wood promises to advocate for increased parental oversight over schooling, as well as a new approach to education that emphasizes the teaching of classical texts as a way to increase student’s critical thinking. Wood has accrued $7,000 in contributions.

Timothy Enos, the former chief of the Sarasota County Schools Police Department is a latecomer to the race. Enos has received endorsements from State Rep. Timothy Gregory and the Sarasota Republican Party. Enos has stated that his 30 years of experience working with local students has allowed him fully understand the mental health and security needs of local students. He has received $13,500 in contribution.

Election Information

Aug 23, 2022 - Primary Election

Mon., July 25: Voter Registration Deadline

Sat., Aug 13 - Sun., Aug 21: Early Voting

Sat., Aug 13, 5 p.m.: Deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed

Tues., Aug 23, 7 p.m. (election night): Voted vote-by-mail ballots must be received in the elections office

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