Brody continues to lead County Commission District 2 fundraising race, with Neunder far ahead of opponent Hawkins in District 4 campaign

Atkins well behind in financial support among three Democrats seeking to replace Ziegler

This is District 2 following the County Commission’s 2021 redistricting process. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody remains in the lead among Democratic candidates for the District 2 County Commission seat in terms of raising money, as shown by the latest campaign finance documents filed with Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner.

However, of the three Democratic candidates, former Sarasota Mayor and Commissioner Fredd Atkins of Newtown reported the highest amount of contributions for April: $4,649.48. Yet, Atkins is well behind Brody and Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino in fundraising, having gathered a total of only $5,399.48 through April, as shown in Atkins’ latest report. He has spent $615.04 since he joined the race; of that amount, he noted $399.14 in April expenses.

Brody collected another $7,725 in April, and he spent $1,325.41 that month, his report says. In March, his contributions totaled $17,100.

Altogether, Brody has received $50,213, with his expenses adding up to $3,610.53 through April.

Cosentino received $1,350 in contributions in April, but he listed no expenses for that month. In fact, Cosentino’s latest report shows that he has yet to spend any money on his campaign.

His total contributions were $41,048.81 through April. In March, he gave his campaign $35,000.

Siesta Key resident Lourdes Ramirez filed on May 4 as a Republican candidate for the District 2 seat. As a result, her first campaign finance report would be expected in early June.

Commissioner Christian Ziegler won the District 2 seat in November 2018. As of the deadline for this issue of The Sarasota News Leader, he had yet to file for re-election.

The qualifying period for local candidates will begin at noon on June 13 and end at noon on June 17, the Supervisor of Elections website notes.

Brody’s latest contributions

City Commissioner Hagen Brody. News Leader image

Among those who contributed $1,000 to Brody in April — the highest amount allowed under state law — were attorney John Fischer of Hollywood; Susan “Sunny” Moss of Sarasota, who is listed on the form as “not employed”; Charlie Shrem of Sarasota, a general partner of Druid Ventures who lists himself as a “Bitcoin Pioneer” in his LinkedIn account; Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; and Rominiecki’s husband, Robert.

Former Sarasota City Commissioner Ken Shelin and attorney Nancy Cason of Sarasota gave $500 to Brody, the records show, while Teri Hansen, president and CEO of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation; John Annis, senior vice president of the Barancik Foundation; Lisa Seidensticker, whose father, Stephen, founded Libby’s restaurant in Sarasota; Venice attorney Anthony Mowry; and Englewood attorney Albert Stickley gave Brody $250 each.

Brody also is an attorney.

Brody was among the city commissioners who voted in support of the Selby Gardens Master Plan, the first phase of which is under construction in downtown Sarasota. Seidensticker, who has helped carry on her family’s business, has been working with the City Commission on the future of the Miss Susie’s restaurant and hospitality industry training program that her father established before his death.

In April, Brody’s largest expense — $900 — went to Sprout Blue LLC in Boca Raton for consulting work, his report notes. He also paid a little more than $360 in fees to Stripe, an online payment processing company.

In his latest report, Cosentino reported a total of six contributions, which ranged from $50 to $500. Four of those came from persons who identified themselves as unemployed. Half of the contributors live on Siesta Key.

Mike Cosentino addresses the county commissioners on March 11, 2020. File image

In his April report, Atkins documented 27 contributions ranging from $1 — from the Florida Accountability Project, located on Cattlemen Road in Sarasota — to $1,000, which came from Every Child Inc., a childcare facility that stands on Pomelo Place in Sarasota.

Fredd ‘Glossie’ Atkins. Image contributed by the candidate

Several people gave Atkins $500 apiece: both Arthur Levin and his wife, Marcella, downtown Sarasota residents who have been volunteers with efforts to aid the homeless in the community; event planner Adrien Lucas; and retiree Kelly Franklin, a community activist.

Among others supporting Atkins’ campaign in April were former Sarasota Mayor and City Commissioner Willie Shaw, who provided him a $200 contribution, the records show; Rita Ferrandino, past chair of the Sarasota County Democratic Party, who gave Atkins $100; and former Sarasota Mayor and City Commissioner Mary Anne Servian, who also gave him $100.

The largest single expense Atkins noted in his April report was $118.07, paid to Courtesy Cleaners on Main Street in Sarasota. That was followed by $105.93 to 301 Kwikie Inc., which is located on N. Washington Blvd. in Sarasota. Atkins spent the latter amount on campaign business cards, the report notes.

Further, Atkins spent $69.20 with the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office for staff to verify the validity of petitions he had gathered in an effort to forgo paying the qualifying fee.

In March, Paul Donnelly, director of communications and voter outreach for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office, told the News Leader that the filing fee for partisan races this year is $5,576.10.

The District 4 candidates

Dr. Joseph Neunder. Image from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections

Of all the candidates who have filed for the two County Commission seats up for election this year, Joe Neunder, a chiropractor who is a Venice City Council member, has raised by far the most money. Neunder is a Republican candidate for the District 4 seat, which has been held by Commissioner Alan Maio since the 2014 election. Maio is term-limited.

Neunder’s total contributions through April are $110,945, according to his most recent filing with the Supervisor of Elections Office. His expenses from the start of his campaign add up to $15,245.46.

Republican Mark Hawkins, owner of Hawk’s Nest Construction in Sarasota, is the only other individual to file for the District 4 seat as of the deadline for this issue of the News Leader. Hawkins’ contributions totaled $2,520 through April, while his expenses added up to $13,975.10.

For April, Neunder took in $2,350, his latest report shows. He had two $1,000 contributions, from Sun Garden Café on Siesta Key and from Scott Benge of Venice, owner of Home Keys Realty Group.

Additionally, state Rep. Fiona McFarland of Sarasota gave Neunder $250, the report says.

Neunder’s largest expense in April was $4,961.33, which went to Campaign Graphics of Flagstaff, Ariz., for campaign signs. He also paid $400 to PAC Financial Management in Tallahassee, which is serving as his treasurer.

In March, Neunder received $1,620 in contributions and spent $800, that campaign finance report says. The $800 went to PAC Financial Management.

His biggest contribution in March — $1,000 — came from the Firefighters and Paramedics for Public Safety, a political action committee based in Venice. Two Miami firefighters political action committees gave him $200 apiece, the report notes.

This graph, provided on the Transparency USA website, shows the campaign finance activity of the Firefighters and Paramedics for Public Safety PAC of Venice. Image from Transparency USA

In his April report, Hawkins listed nine contributions, ranging from $20 to $500. The only individual who gave Hawkins the latter amount was Nokomis retiree David McClain.

Mark Hawkins previously served on the county Planning Commission. File photo

Another retiree, Paul Beitlich of Sarasota, and Realtor Kenneth Brand, also of Sarasota, gave Hawkins $250 each. Beitlich’s wife, Pam, gave Hawkins $50, the records show.

Beitlich was a senior attorney at the Icard Merrill firm in Sarasota prior to his retirement, his LinkedIn account says. Icard Merrill handles numerous land-use applications for clients pursuing development projects in the county.

Hawkins listed no expenses for April.

In March, Hawkins gave his campaign $5,000, that report notes. It was his only contribution that month.

He spent $3,425 in March on signs created by Sarasota Sign Machine and $2,400 on videos produced by Blockhead Productions in Venice, the report says.