Incumbents lead the way in qualifying for 2012 election

Photo by Norman Schimmel

With the qualifying period officially having begun at noon today, June 4, an attorney in Venice vying for Jon Thaxton’s Sarasota County Commission seat and the two incumbent county commissioners are among a number of candidates for local office who already have “Qualified” notations at the ends of their names on the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections list (

Republican Charles Hines was the only candidate for the District 5 County Commission seat to have qualified for that office by 5 p.m. June 4. Four other Republican challengers have filed for the race: Randy McLendon and Louis D. Rosenfield, both of Englewood, and Vanessa J. Carusone and William Brian Slider, both of Venice.

Thaxton, who had planned to seek a fourth term on the county board, was prevented from doing so by a Florida Supreme Court ruling upholding commission term limits as outlined in county charters. Thaxon announced June 1 that he would be challenging incumbent Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent in the Republican primary.

Dent also was among the candidates who had qualified for races on June 4.

A third challenger in that race, Victoria Ann Brill of Longboat Key, has filed as a write-in candidate.

In the other County Commission races, Carolyn J. Mason of Sarasota has qualified to run for re-election in District 1, while Christine Robinson has qualified to run for the first time for the District 3 seat she holds.

Robinson was appointed in December 2010 to fill out the unexpired term of Commissioner Shannon Staub. Jennifer Cohen of North Port has filed as a Democrat to face Robinson in the general election.

No one had filed as of 5 p.m. June 4 to face Mason, who is seeking her second term on the board.

Other incumbent Sarasota County constitutional officers who had qualified as of June 4 were Sheriff Tom Knight and Property Appraiser William Furst, both of whom are seeking their second terms; and long-time incumbents Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and Clerk of Court Karen Rushing.

Rushing, who has held her post for 25 years, has a Democratic challenger this year: Robert Earl Sublett of Sarasota.

Sarasota County School Board incumbents Caroline Zucker, in District 2, and Frank Kovach, in District 3, also have qualified as candidates. As of late June 4, neither of them faced opposition.

The qualifying period ends at noon on Friday, June 8. The primary is set for Aug. 14.