Letschert drops out of County Commission race to join board of Florida Democratic Party

Alan Maio far outpacing his Republican and Democratic challengers in campaign contributions

Jordan Letschert. Contributed photo

The last person to file for the Sarasota County Commission District 4 seat announced this week that he is withdrawing from the race.

Jordan Letschert, who just announced his candidacy on April 10, reported that has accepted an invitation to join the 20-person Board of Trustees for the Florida Democratic Party. That position, he pointed out in an April 23 press release, will enable him to work with party leadership “to help candidates at every level” and allow him to play “an integral role in shaping the [party] platform for 2018 and beyond.”

He also is calling for the party to rally behind a “Unity Ticket” to avoid Democratic primaries affecting Sarasota County, the release says.

He is the only board member in Southwest Florida, the release notes.

Additionally, Letschert has accepted an advisory role with U.S. congressional candidate David Shapiro, who filed on Jan. 8 as a Democrat for the U.S. House District 16 seat held by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. Letschert will assist Shapiro with LGBT issues, the press release says, “a matter close to Letschert as he is openly gay [and] married with a son.”

Letschert’s decision leaves Wesley Beggsof Sarasota as the lone Democrat vying for the District 4 seat, which has been held since November 2014 by Commissioner Alan Maio of Nokomis. Siesta resident Lourdes Ramirez will face Maio in the Republican primary in late August.

Beggs is the owner of her own marketing and media agency, which works with local businesses, petition initiatives and “community building organizations,” her campaign website points out.

Lourdes Ramirez. Image from her campaign website

Ramirez— who also ran against Maio in 2014 — has been involved with a number of civic organizations, including the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), the Siesta Key Association (SKA) and the League of Women Voters of Sarasota County. Additionally, she is a member of the Republican Executive Committee, and she serves on the boards of the Sarasota Republican Club, the Republican Women’s Club of Sarasota and the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Maio had retired as a principal with the Kimley-Horn and Associates consulting firm in Sarasota before he won the District 4 seat in 2014. While he was with Kimley-Horn, he oversaw planning and pre-construction services at the local, county, state and water management district levels.

He also was a county Planning Commission member for six years.

Maio has far outpaced Ramirez and Beggs in fundraising, according to campaign finance reports all three have filed. As of April 9, Maio had taken in $80,339 in monetary contributions and accepted $199.89 through in-kind services. He reported spending $8,816.05.

As of April 8, Ramirez had received $6,938 in monetary contributions and $2,111.35 through in-kind services. She also has loaned the campaign $3,300.

She had spent $236.66, the records show.

Beggs’ campaign had received $3,992 in monetary contributions through April 10, as well as $678.82 through in-kind services. She had spent $1,206.24, the records noted.

Maio filed for re-election on Dec. 13, 2017. Beggs put her name in the figurative hat on Feb. 8, while Ramirez filed on Feb. 20.


Commissioner Alan Maio. Rachel Hackney photo

Among Maio’s contributors in March and April were solar contractor Brilliant Harvest of Sarasota; Charles Hines — his colleague on the County Commission — and Hines’ wife, Susan; commercial builder Ryan McIntyre of Bradenton; Siesta Key business owner Chris Brown; Beach Bazaar of Sarasota; Gerdes Construction of Sarasota; M&M Lodgings of Sarasota, whose manager is Maria Bankemper of the Best Western Plus Siesta Key Gateway Hotel just off Siesta Key; Siesta Mr. CB’s Rentals, the boat rental service of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Stickney Point Road; county Planning Commission member Colin Pember; Sweet Sparkman Architects, which has designed a number of county projects; Sarasota County Public Defender Larry Eger; Bobcat Disposal of Sarasota, a dumpster service in Lakewood Ranch; John Cannon Homes of Lakewood Ranch; Kimal Lumber Co. of Nokomis; Trent Culleny Landscape Contractor of Sarasota; Culverhouse Limited Partnership of Sarasota; Hugh F. Culverhouse, developer of Palmer Ranch; Palmer Ranch Holdings of Sarasota; LWR Communities, LWR Commercial Realty and LWR Development, all of Lakewood Ranch; and Schroeder Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch.

Among Ramirez’s contributors have been two vocal opponents of an amendment to the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) zoning regulations that Maio joined two of his colleagues in approving on April 10. Those contributors are Malcolm Lazin, president of the Gulf & Bay Club condominium association on Siesta Key; and Robert Sax, a resident of the Marina Del Sol condominiums on Old Stickney Point Road.

Wesley Beggs. Image from her campaign website

Ramirez was one of more than two-dozen opponents of the amendment who addressed the County Commission during the SKOD amendment public hearing on April 10.

She also has received contributions from Sarasota attorney Dan Lobeck and the organization he helms, Control Growth Now.

Most of Beggs’ contributions have come from individuals, her campaign finance reports show. However, she has received $50 from the Sarasota-Charlotte Democratic Progressive Caucus, based in Sarasota; and $100 from the Manasota Young Democrats, also headquartered in Sarasota.

Since he filed for re-election, Maio had received a total of 473 contributions through April 9.

Ramirez’s finance reports show a total of 60 contributions, including the loans she made to her campaign and 15 in-kind services she had provided as of the April report, according to aSarasota News Leadercount.

Beggs had received 61 contributions as of April 9, including 10 in-kind contributions she made to her campaign.