County’s March purchase of building for Supervisor of Elections Office will result in just Voter Services team remaining on first floor of Terrace Building

Supervisor of Elections preparing for record turnout in Presidential Election in November

This aerial map shows the property located at 4440 Fruitvilel Road outlined in purple. The property at 4466 Fruitville Road is immediately east of it. The District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office is to the east of the 4466 Fruitville Road parcel. Image courtesy Property Appraiser Bill First

During his 2025 fiscal year budget presentation to the Sarasota County Commission this week, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner spent the majority of his time talking about a building on Fruitville Road whose purchase the board authorized in November 2023 for Turner and his staff.

On March 6, the county paid $11,955,200 for the 23,192-square-foot, two story structure standing at 4440 Fruitville Road, plus the adjacent parcel with the address of 4466 Fruitville Road. The latter property comprises 57,678 square feet — or about 1.3 acres — as noted in the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records.

Just to the east of the parcel located at 4466 Fruitville Road is the new building that the commission approved several years ago for the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office.

One of Turner’s staff members located the Fruitville Road property as the potential site for what Turner called the Elections Operation Center during the June 19 discussion.

A county memo in the commission’s Nov. 28, 2023 agenda packet explained, “The facility will provide for an

elections center that is conveniently located within the county with adequate public and staff parking, dedicated staff office and workspace and needed square footage for election operations. The elections center would accommodate administrative offices, election record archives, vote-by-mail operations, poll worker services and IT functions. The building would serve as the hub for numerous election-related functions and activities, such as canvassing board meetings, vote-by-mail ballot processing, secure vote-by-mail ballot tabulation, poll worker training and space for public observation.”

The memo further pointed out, “A conveniently located and expansive elections center would improve operational efficiency and further optimize election planning and administration. The current location at the Sarasota County Terrace Building is space-constrained during large-scale countywide election operations. Further, the Terrace Building is logistically limited, as it necessitates the use of public elevators to transport important election materials from floor to floor throughout the many months of an election year. The 4440 Fruitville Road facility would provide adequate space to accommodate simultaneous election operation functions on one ground-level floor, which would enhance the overall efficiency of election operations.”

During his June 19 remarks, Turner told the commissioners, “We’re in the middle of trying to finish the move in the middle of a Presidential Election year.” He wanted to await the conclusion of the state qualifying period last week, Turner added, before completing the staff move, which should take place next week.

In response to a Sarasota News Leader request for more information about the new facility, Paul Donnelly, director of communications and voter outreach for the Supervisor of Elections Office, wrote in a June 19 email, “To my knowledge, we first expressed interest in the building in July 2023.”

Donnelly also explained that the structure standing at 4440 Fruitville road formerly was the CAN Community Health building. He added that the adjacent parcel previously was home to the Julie Rohr Academy; it will be used for additional parking for the Supervisor of Elections Office Operations Center.

This is an image of the building standing at 4440 Fruitville Road. Image from

“Our customer facing Voter Services team located on the 1st floor of the Terrace Building [in downtown Sarasota] will remain,” Donnelly wrote. “Those services will not change, and early voting will still take place there.”

On June 19, Turner expressed his thanks to County Administrator Jonathan Lewis and Deputy County Administrator and Chief Financial Management Official Steve Botelho, who “fast-tracked the purchase of this [Fruitville Road] facility … “ They had done everything that he had requested in regard to the initiative, Turner continued, “and gone above and beyond.”

Turner also pointed out that he and his staff will be able to share parking facilities with the Medical Examiner’s Office.

“We got a good deal on this,” he said of the transaction.

“I just want to highlight, really, the win here,” Commissioner Ron Cutsinger told Turner, explaining that he was talking about the county’s purchase of a building next to an existing county facility instead of constructing a new one for Turner and his staff. “Thank you for saving us a lot of money and a lot of time,” Cutsinger told Turner.

“The office market, the warehouse market, is at a very low rate across the country, and especially here,” Custinger continued. If county staff followed Turner’s example in searching for existing space for expansion, perhaps other opportunities could be found, Cutsinger said.

Commissioner Neil Rainford concurred with Cutsinger. “I think that was a good savings for the taxpayer,” he added of Turner’s staff efforts.

Planning for potentially record turnout

Among other information that Turner provided during his June 19 presentation, he explained, “Our budget is cyclical.”

Given the fact that each fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, Turner noted, “The major hit to our budget [in the 2025 fiscal year] will be the Presidential Election coming up [in November].”

His proposed budget for the 2025 fiscal year is $9,492,597, which is 13% lower than his current budget of $10,893,366.

Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner. Image from the Supervisor of Elections website

“We anticipate a large voter turnout,” Turner continued, noting that the number of voters in November could set a new record.

He also said that he and his staff are seeing about 1,400 new voters register each month.

(In response to another News Leader inquiry this week, Donnelly, the director of communications for the Supervisor of Elections Office, wrote in a June 20 email, “That number will fluctuate based on list maintenance but is fairly accurate for what we have experienced over the last 18 to 24 months.”)

As of June 20, Turner’s website said, the total number of voters was 324,268. Of those, 152,220 were registered as Republicans; 85,974, as Democrats; and 86,074, with no party affiliation.

“We’re adding hundreds of additional poll workers,” Turner also told the commissioners.

Further, he pointed out, he and his staff have added four new precincts, nine new polling locations, and a 10th early voting site for the November General Election.

Turner also noted that, thanks to the support of the County Commission, his office had been able to purchase equipment that makes it possible to conduct an audit of 100% of the paper ballots cast in each election.

Leave a Comment