Ramirez and Atkins both take in dozens of small contributions
The latest campaign finance forms filed by candidates for the two open Sarasota County Commission seats this year show Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody remains in the lead among the Democratic candidates for the District 2 seat, with Republican challenger Lourdes Ramirez of Siesta Key having collected $9,644 since she filed for that seat in May.
Ramirez’s Republican opponent, architect Mark Smith, also of Siesta Key, filed too late to have to submit a report for May.
In the District 4 race, Venice chiropractor and former City Council member Joe Neunder maintained a strong lead over his Republican challenger, construction company owner Mark Hawkins of Sarasota, while the Democrat who just joined that race — Daniel Kuether of Sarasota — will not file his first finance report until July.
Neunder had $113,695 in contributions through May, compared to $3,770 for Hawkins, the latest reports note.
Brody is one of three Democrats seeking to win the seat that Republican County Commissioner Christian Ziegler has held since November 2018. The others are Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino, who also owns a construction company — which his father founded decades ago; and former Sarasota Mayor and City Commissioner Fredd Atkins of Newtown.
In May, Brody reported new contributions totaling $9,300 to give him a total of $59,513, his report says. He has spent a total of $7,967.66, an amended report notes.
Cosentino has collected contributions adding up to $43,558.31, through May. However, Cosentino gave his campaign $35,000 in March, that earlier report showed. His expenditures added up to $4,239.92 through, the latest document said.
Atkins in May took in close to the same amount as Brody: $9,233.44, plus $560 in in-kind contributions. Altogether, through that month, Atkins had a total of $14,632.92. He had spent $4,795.41 through May, the latest document noted.
In his May report filed with the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office, Brody listed four $1,000 contributions — the highest amount allowed by law. They came from Rosebay International Real Estate of Sarasota, attorney Przemyslaw Dominko of Sarasota, and retirees Pauline Wamsler and Jean Weidner. The latter long has been a principal benefactor of The Sarasota Ballet, while Wamsler is chair of the board of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which is based in Venice.
Among other contributions, Brody received $500 each from long-time philanthropist Margaret Wise, who has served multiple terms on the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation; Georgia Court, who owns Bookstore1 in downtown Sarasota; Cary Cohenour of Sarasota, director and coach of Celsius Tennis Academy; Sarasota attorney Jennifer Archbold; retiree Jerry Wells, a past candidate for City Commission who serves on the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Advisory Board; and Heidi Brandt, a director of the Lido Key Residents Association.
Joe Seidensticker, whose family owns Libby’s and other restaurants in the area, gave Brody $750.
Brody’s biggest single expense in May was $1,209.75, which went to recent Pine View School graduate Zander Moricz for “consulting/field work. Brody also paid $900 in May to Sprout Blue LLC of Boca Raton for consulting work and $275 to the Florida Democratic Party for a file that gave him access to voter information. Additionally, he made four payments — two at $224.70, one at $256.80 and one at $26.75 — to Palm Printing of Sarasota. Further, he paid $105.93 to Company Outfitters of Sarasota for “shirts.”
In his May report, Cosentino received funds from 14 people — ranging from $4.50 to $1,000 — and he gave the campaign another $2,000 in in-kind contributions, he noted, for advertising expenses. A retired doctor, Paul Fishman was the solitary person to give Cosentino $1,000, the report shows. Attorney Susan Schoettle-Gumm, an attorney who is an advocate for residents on many issues that come before the County Commission; and Megan Knott of Sarasota, a showroom associate at Blu Home, a furniture store, each contributed $250 to Cosentino’s campaign. Another community activist — Pat Rounds, who helped lead the fight this year to preserve the Single-Member District voting system that citizens approved in November 2018 — contributed $200.
Cosentino’s biggest expense in May — $3,500 — was for consulting and marketing work provided by Katherine Norman Consulting of Sarasota, the report says.
In his May report, Atkins listed 67 contributions, which ranged from low amounts such as $1, $5, $10, $15 and $20.22 on up to the $1,000 maximum.
Frank Brunckhorst, manager of the Boar’s Head food company in Sarasota; and Barbara Gardner Logan and her husband, Dwight Logan of Osprey, all gave Atkins $1,000 apiece.
Dr. Washington Hill gave Atkins $500; and Jones Funeral Home of Sarasota; Deborah Fineman of Siesta Key; and Nancy Blood of Philadelphia each contributed $300.
Julie Leach, executive director of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Sarasota, gave Atkins a check for $250, the report shows.
The News Leader counted 13 contributions at $100 each. One of those was from Dr. Mark Kauffman, who owns a considerable amount of property in the city and for years has been one of the leaders of the Downtown Improvement District of the City of Sarasota. (See the article in this issue about the Historic Preservation Board meeting on June 14.) Another came from Pete Tannen, a past president of the ACLU of Florida Chapter in Sarasota County.
Atkins himself gave the campaign $350 in an in-kind contribution for campaign photos, the report shows.
His largest expenditures in May were payments totaling $1,069.47 to 301 Kwikie Inc. in Sarasota for printing; $672.50 to Compound Catering in Sarasota; and $1,500 to his campaign manager, Peter Imhoff of Englewood.
Ramirez’s first report
In her first report since filing to run for the District 2 seat, Ramirez listed 76 contributions, with the smallest noted as $3.
Ramirez gave the campaign $420.26 in in-kind contributions for a variety of purposes, including stamps, paying to incorporate the campaign, printed thank-you cards, creation of a campaign website, and expenses related to gathering petitions, the report points out. She also contributed $275.
Two people gave her $1,000: Dr. Paul Rubin and Marti Moss, both of Sarasota. Attorney Dan Lobeck, head of the nonprofit organization Control Growth Now, and his firm — Lobeck & Hanson — each contributed $400.
Mike Hutchinson, a Republican who ran against District 1 County Commissioner Michael Moran in 2020; Harry Anand of Siesta Key, who was on the board of the Save Siesta Key incorporation nonprofit last year; David Cardell, founder and CEO of Hosting Seniors LLC in Sarasota; and retirees Nancy Pratt of Waxhaw, N.C., Eileen Fitzgerald of Sarasota; and Robert Oram of Sarasota contributed $250 apiece. Attorney Susan Schoettle-Gumm gave Ramirez $300.
Anthropologist Alexandra Coe, a member of the Sarasota County Charter Review Board, gave Ramirez $125.
In May, Ramirez’s top expense was $662.15, which went to Webelect of Tampa. It is described on the campaign finance form as a web-based voter information service. Ramirez also paid Gateway Media of Sarasota $230.05 for printing services, including business cards.
The District 4 candidates’ reports
In May, District 4 Republican candidate Neunder built on his campaign finance lead, adding $2,750, his report says.
That total came from four contributions, including $1,000 apiece from the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange political action committee in Tallahassee and the Pulte Group construction firm, based in Atlanta.
Sarasota attorney William Saba gave Neunder $500, while Osprey legal consultant Hamilton Coffey contributed $250, the report shows.
As for expenses: Neunder reimbursed himself $3,881.25 for a variety of campaign payments, from signs to printing. He also paid Public Concepts LLC of Jupiter $4,495.91 for campaign consulting, and he paid $620 to PAC Financial Management in Tallahassee for providing services as his treasurer.
Hawkins reported four contributions in May. Plumber Peter Bogacz of Sarasota contributed $400, and Mark Rosato, who owns the Moondoggy’s Saloon and ZuZu’s Cocktail Lounge in Gulf Gate, gave him $500. Jerry Knapp, principal of Concrete Structural of Sarasota, contributed $250; and real estate agent Helen Gallagher of Sarasota gave Hawkins $100, the report shows.
The only expense Hawkins listed in May was $1,605, which he paid to Sarasota Sign Machine for hats.