Jouniari files for District 2 County Commission seat

Republicans Christian Ziegler and Alexandra Coe also have filed for the race

Ruta Jouniari files for the District 2 seat on the County Commission. Contributed photo

Democrat Ruta Maria Jouniari, a small business owner, small farmer and community health care advocate, has filed to run for the Sarasota County Commission District 2 seat.

Jouniari previously ran for the Florida House 72 seat vacated late last summer by Rep. Alex Miller of Sarasota. Democrat Margaret Good of Siesta Key, who eventually won the Special House 72 election last month, defeated Jouniari in the December 2017 primary for that seat.

“As a County Commissioner, I will work for all of Sarasota, from Lakewood Ranch to North Port,” Jouniari said in a press release. “We need sustainable development, environmental protection, and affordable housing to preserve our quality of life,” she added in the release.

After County Commissioner Paul Caragiulo announced early this year that he did not plan to seek re-election to the District 2 seat, Republican Christian Ziegler filed. Additionally, Republican Alexandra Coe of Sarasota has put her name in the hat for the race. She filed with the Supervisor of Elections Office on Jan. 24.

Coe is an anthropologist and a sustainability consultant, her LinkedIn profile says.

Ziegler was elected to serve as Sarasota County’s state committeeman in 2012 and re-elected without opposition in 2016. Prior to becoming state committeeman, he was a legislative assistant and the digital director for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican.

Ziegler already has raised $3,990.36, according to the campaign finance records he has filed with the state; he had spent $242.42 as of March 9.

Alexandra Coe. Image from her Facebook page

Coe’s campaign finance records through March 13 show her having no contributions.

In 2014, Coe ran for County Commission without party affiliation. She received 33.33% of the vote in that race, with Caragiulo taking 66.17%, Supervisor of Elections Office records show. A third candidate, Pete Theisen of Sarasota, won 92 votes.

Jouniari began her career with Aetna U.S. Healthcare, developing markets in Boston and Tampa “and fighting to lower premium costs for consumers,” her press release says.

After almost 20 years in the insurance field, she “decided to go out on her own,” the release continues. She founded International Staffing Group Inc. in 2004, the release points out. “Her company works with the federal government to place veterans in good jobs that allow them to utilize their specialized skills,” the release adds.

Jouniari has lived in Sarasota for almost 20 years “and is probably best known for co-founding the Universal Crescent Clinic,” the release notes. That clinic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides free medical care to people without insurance in Sarasota County, the release explains. She serves on the organization’s board of directors and volunteers at the clinic on Saturdays, the release adds.

The Boston-born daughter of Lithuanian immigrants, Jouniari lives with her husband of 19 years and her 97-year-old mother, for whom she provides primary care, the release says.