Cosentino files for District 2 seat on County Commission

He will face Hagen Brody in the August Democratic Primary

Mike Cosentino addresses the county commissioners on March 24, 2020. File image

Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino has filed once again for a seat on the County Commission. This time, he will compete against Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody in the Democratic primary for the District 2 seat held by Commissioner Christian Ziegler, a Republican.

Cosentino’s formal Statement of Candidate was time-stamped at 12:33 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office, the document shows.

Brody’s Statement of Candidate was time-stamped at 1:01 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the Supervisor of Elections Office.

In 2018, Cosentino sought the District 4 seat, which Alan Maio first won in November 2014. Cosentino lost in the August 2018 Democratic Primary to Wesley Anne Beggs, capturing only 32.75% of the 35,538 ballots cast.

Maio went on to defeat Beggs in the November 2018 General Election.

The Primary Election this year is slated for Aug. 23.

Ahead of the August 2018 Primary, Cosentino raised $8,050.63, his campaign finance records show. That compared to $35,918.18 for Beggs and $135,018 for Maio.

During a recent public hearing before the County Commission, Cosentino told Ziegler of his plans to run for the District 2 seat.

At the time of the 2018 election, Cosentino remained engaged in litigation with the county over the commission vote in May 2016 to vacate a 373-foot-long segment of North Beach Road that had been closed to traffic since the early 1990s. He also was pursuing the passage — on the November 2018 General Election ballot — of two proposed Sarasota County Charter amendments that sought to undo the board’s vote on North Beach Road and prevent any other vacations of road segments with so much as a view of the water.

Although the Charter amendments won approval, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled for the county last year, agreeing with a 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge that they were invalid because they contravened state law. Cosentino also lost the North Beach Road case, with the Appeal Court also siding with the county.

Bollards installed in late January 2017 are at the ends of the vacated segment of North Beach Road. Signage makes plain that the public can access the road segment. File photo

Cosentino has remained a staunch advocate of public access to the water.

More recently, in early 2021, Cosentino launched the drive to incorporate the portion of Siesta Key within the county’s jurisdiction. After a couple of months of advocacy, he turned over that initiative to John Davidson, founder of Davidson Drugs and a leader of a past effort to incorporate the Key. Davidson chaired a nonprofit organization called Save Siesta Key. In January, it lost out on a bid to persuade the necessary number of members of the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation to file the local bill for incorporation in the current legislative session. (See the related article in this issue.)

Cosentino has a construction firm based on Siesta Key.

Brody has no need to resign from city seat to run for county seat

In a related issue, The Sarasota News Leader asked Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier whether City Commissioner Brody would need to resign his seat on that board to continue with his County Commission campaign.

In 2015, then-City Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder had to resign their seats to pursue election to the County Commission. The remaining city commissioners then had to appoint two individuals to serve out Caragiulo’s and Snyder’s terms.

City Attorney Robert Fournier. News Leader image

In a Feb. 4 email, Fournier explained, “The ‘resign to run’ statute [See Section 99.012(3)(a) of the Florida Statutes] only applies when the terms of the office that you currently hold and the new office that you seek overlap or run concurrently for a period of time. But since the City Commission term expires three days after the election (the Friday following the Tuesday) and the County Commissioner term commences two weeks to the day after the election date (the second Tuesday following the election), the terms do not overlap.”

Referencing the situation with Caragiulo and Snyder, Fournier added, “In the example you cited, the City elections were then held in the spring and the City terms expired in the spring after the County term commenced in November so there was an overlap where the terms would have run concurrently. When the statute applies the resignation becomes effective on the date that you would assume office for the new position, whether or not you are elected to the new position. The City Commissioner terms were filled by appointment from November to May as the resignations became effective in November.”

Therefore, Fournier pointed out, “[T]he reason for the difference from what happened before is now that City Commissioner elections are held in November of even numbered years, the City Commission term and the County Commission term do not overlap.”