Two Republicans also have filed in effort to win seat that will be vacated by Commissioner Maio after two terms
Just days before the official qualifying period begins on June 13, a Democrat has entered the race for the District 4 County Commission seat, joining two Republicans seeking to replace Commissioner Alan Maio, who is term-limited.
On June 9, Daniel Kuether (pronounced “Kee-Der”) of Sarasota formally announced his candidacy, he noted in a news release.
His formal Statement of Candidate, required by state law, says he filed at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office at 9:08 a.m. on June 9.
A native of Ohio, Kuether grew up on a family farm, the release says. He attended Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and has spent a decade working in real estate industries, from property management and development to real estate tech, the release adds.
This election marks the first time citizens of District 4 will independently elect their representative under the Single Member Districts voting system, which voters initially approved in November 2018 and affirmed in March, after the County Commission and the Republican Party of Sarasota County worked to overturn the method.
With the Single Member District system, only citizens who live in the same district as candidates for a specific seat can vote for one of those candidates. Previously, all county commissioners were elected countywide.
In his announcement, Kuether says he is running “to highlight the decades-long failures of the Republican commission, including the continued attempt by the Sarasota County Commission to defy a voter mandate and overthrow the broadly popular Single Member Districts. The Republican Party is wrong on gun control, women’s healthcare, and LGBTQ+ rights,” he continues. “Citizens deserve leadership that does not blindly cling to GOP talking points and over-politicizes local issues for personal gain.”
Republicans have controlled the County Commission for more than 50 years.
The county’s residents “need holistic development that benefits the entire county,” Kuether points out in the release. If elected, he says “he will push against developers to force systematic change, support multiple forms of transportation, identify and implement affordable housing options, and establish more significant safeguards for the surrounding environment.”
He adds, “Environmental impact must be a part of every commission decision rather than just a talking point to get elected. The modern dilemma concerns keeping the barrier islands habitable after monster storms, decreasing waste amidst a massively growing population, and protecting ecosystems from irreversible damage.”
Kuether moved to Florida in 2018 after meeting his now-husband, Ryan, a Sarasota native, the release notes. Kuether works as a UX/UI designer for a real estate tech company.
Unless another Democrat enters the District 4 race before the end of the qualifying period — at noon on June 17 — Kuether in November will face the winner of the Republican Primary, which will be conducted on Aug. 23.
A Venice chiropractor who previously served on the county’s Planning Commission and who is a Venice City Council member, Republican Joe Neunder, is running against Republican Mark Hawkins of Sarasota, who owns a construction company. Hawkins is a past member of the county’s Charter Review Board.
The most recent campaign finance data available for those two Republican candidates show Neunder had received $113,695 in monetary contributions and $500 in in-kind contributions through May and had spent $24,252.92. Hawkins reported a total of $3,770 in contributions through the same month, plus $20,000 in in-kind contributions and expenditures of $15,580.10.
Kuether will file his first report for the month of June.