Siesta resident long an advocate for protecting neighborhoods from uncontrolled growth
A Republican candidate finally has filed for the District 2 Sarasota County Commission seat — Lourdes Ramirez of Siesta Key.
Her official Statement of Candidate, required by Florida law, was stamped by staff at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office at 10:03 a.m. on May 4.
Ramirez long has worked to try to guard against intensity of development on Siesta Key and in other areas of the county. Most recently, she was the first individual to file a complaint over County Commission approval of an eight-story, 170-room hotel that would be constructed on Calle Miramar, on the edge of Siesta Village.
That case has been set for trial in May 2023.
She also has taken many opportunities over the years to offer public comments at County Commission meetings, criticizing the board members for failing to adhere to county policies, especially those involving residential development.
As of the publication deadline this week for The Sarasota News Leader, Ramirez was the only Republican to enter the District 2 race. Republican Christian Ziegler won the seat in November 2018. He also serves as the vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
Three Democrats also are vying for the seat: Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody, Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino, and former Sarasota City Commissioner Fredd Atkins of Newtown.
Through March, Brody, who was elected to the city board in May 2017 as an at-large candidate, had the lead in fundraising. However, Cosentino was running a close second, as the News Leader recently reported.
Brody filed for the race on Feb. 2, followed by Cosentino on Feb. 3 and Atkins on March 24, Supervisor of Elections Office records show.
The official qualifying period for County Commission candidates will begin at noon on June 13 and conclude at noon on June 17.
If no Republican had filed for the race, the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary for the District 2 seat would have been open to voters registered as Republicans, too, according to provisions of state law.
If Ramirez ends up with no competition, she will face the winner of the Democratic Primary in the November General Election.
In 2014, Ramirez also was a Republican candidate for County Commission. Alan Maio won the primary and the seat, as he had no Democratic challengers. Maio was re-elected in 2018, making him term-limited.
In 2014, Ramirez and Maio both were seeking the District 4 seat. However, in November 2019, the commissioners approved new district maps that changed the boundaries on Siesta Key. They also modified the boundaries again in late 2021, using 2020 U.S. Census data, though Siesta was not affected.
Ramirez has created a campaign website, which notes that she is president of the largest Republican Club in the county — the Republican Women’s Club of Sarasota; that she has been a member of the Sarasota Republican Executive Committee for nine years; and that she is a past president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) — from 2011 to 2014.
In her lawsuit over the Oct. 27, 2021 County Commission approval of the first of two high-rise Siesta Key hotels, Ramirez argues that the project details incorporated a number of inconsistencies with the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which guides growth in the county. Ramirez long has studied the Comprehensive Plan and Siesta Key’s zoning regulations as she has fought to maintain what residents and business owners routinely describe as the charm of the barrier island.
A quote on her website says, “For too long, local politicians have put special interests such as big developers over Sarasota County residents. I’ve dedicated two decades volunteering to protect neighborhoods from incompatible development and preservation of our natural environment.
“It’s about time someone puts Sarasota County first.”