Maio wins re-election to County Commission as Ziegler takes District 2 seat

Both Maio and Ziegler well out-raised their opponents, latest campaign finance data show

Commissioner Alan Maio. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio won re-election to the board this week, and his margin of victory — 53.91% of the unofficial votes — was slightly higher than it was when he initially gained his seat in 2014.

A Republican resident of Nokomis, Maio defeated Democrat Wesley Anne Beggs of Sarasota, who took 46.09% of the Nov. 6 votes, based on the unofficial returns posted by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office.

In 2014, Maio won the District 4 seat with 53.43% of the votes, while Democrat Ray Porter of Sarasota had 41.24% and John C. Minder of Sarasota, with no party affiliation, took the remaining 5.33%.

Prior to his first campaign, Maio retired from the Kimley-Horn and Associates consulting firm, where he was one of the principals.

A New College of Florida alumna, Beggs is managing director of Growl Studios in Sarasota, a position she has held since November 2015. Growl Studios’ Facebook page points out that the firm “produces high quality media and marketing strategies to support you, your business, and your clientele.”

“I am so proud of how far we came together,” Beggs told The Sarasota News Leader. “So many people contributed so much of their time, energy, and money which I will forever be grateful for,” she added. “All I know is that we will continue to advocate for our community. This isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.”

The News Leader did not get a response from Maio to its request for a comment.

With Commissioner Paul Caragiulo having chosen not to seek re-election to his District 2 seat, the person he endorsed as his successor — Christian Ziegler of Sarasota — will take his place on the board, as it turns out.

During the Nov. 7 County Commission meeting, Caragiulo congratulated Maio, saying his colleague’s re-election was “well deserved.”

As for Ziegler’s win, Caragiulo said, “I think that he will fit in very well with this group.”

Christian Ziegler. Image from his campaign website

Also a Republican, Ziegler took 55.56% of the votes for the District 2 seat, based on the unofficial returns. His Democratic opponent was Ruta Maria Jouniari of Sarasota.

This was Ziegler’s first run for County Commission.

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

Additionally, Ziegler served as executive director of the Republican Party of Sarasota County from 2011-2012.

His wife, Bridget, is chair of the Sarasota County School Board.

On his campaign Facebook page, Ziegler posted the following in the aftermath of the Nov. 6 election results: “Thank You Sarasota County!

“I appreciate and respect the trust you’ve put in me to represent & serve you, and I will do just that.

“Congratulations to my opponent — Ruta Jouniari — for running a good & positive race.

“Going forward — Remember your ability to hold your elected officials accountable does NOT stop on election day. Keep an eye on me (and all of your local government). Let me know when I do something you agree with and make sure to let me know when I do something you don’t agree with.”

He concluded the post, “Looking forward to getting to work for Sarasota County.”

On her Facebook campaign page on the morning of Nov. 7, Jouniari thanked all of her supporters and her team of advisers. “Let us all regroup and come out stronger! We should all hold our heads high, and know we did the best we could!!”

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

After almost 20 years in the insurance field, she founded her own business — International Staffing Group Inc. — in 2004. “Her company works with the federal government to place veterans in good jobs that allow them to utilize their specialized skills,” her campaign press release added.

These are the County Commission race results shown on the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections website on Nov. 7. Image courtesy Supervisor of Elections

Both Maio and Ziegler will be sworn in during a Tuesday, Nov. 20 ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. at the County Administration Center in downtown Sarasota.

Both Maio and Ziegler had clear financial advantages over their opponents, based on the last documents they filed prior to the election.

As of Nov. 1, Maio had total contributions of $135,018, with expenses of $123,520.06. Beggs had raised $35,498.18 by the same date, and she had expenses totaling $24,598.90.

The News Leader reported on Nov. 2 that, as of his Oct. 26 campaign finance report, Maio had surpassed his 2014 contributions total of $132,468.26.

The last report Ziegler filed before the election showed him with a total of $86,736.58 in contributions and $63,301.04 in expenses. Covering the period from Oct. 20 through Nov. 1, the report listed 134 contributions adding up to $21,786.26. Of that amount, $291.08 was noted as in-kind contributions. Among the latter was $120.54 from Paul Caragiulo for food for an event. Caragiulo and members of his family are restaurateurs in Sarasota.

Ziegler’s biggest single expense was an Oct. 31 payment of $10,429.99 to Andrick & Associates of Sarasota for mailers, the report says.

Jouniari’s final report for the election, also covering the period from Oct. 20 through Nov. 1, showed her with a total of $45,929.12 in contributions and $39,225.11 in expenses. She gave the campaign $8,500 on Oct. 29 and loaned it $6,500 on Oct. 22, the report shows. She received 45 contributions from other people, the report says.

Her biggest single expense in that report was $3,705.30 to ATC Mobile Market in San Jose, Calif., for “Media services.”