Maio, Ziegler remain top fundraisers for the two County Commission races on the Nov. 6 ballot

Republican primaries set in District 2 and 4 races, with Democratic primary ahead for District 4, as well

Two seats on the Sarasota County Commission will be filled on Nov. 6. Rachel Hackney photo

With the candidate qualifying period having ended at noon on June 22, primaries are the next focus for six of the seven people vying for the two open seats on the Sarasota County Commission.

Lourdes Ramirez of Siesta Key and incumbent Commissioner Alan Maio of Nokomis will square off in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for the District 4 seat, while Wesley Anne Beggs of Sarasota and Mike Cosentino of Siesta Key will face each other in the Democratic primary that day.

For the District 2 seat, Republicans Alexandra Coe and Christian Ziegler, both of Sarasota, will meet in the primary, with the winner to face Democrat Ruta Maria Jouniari of Sarasota in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Only one candidate who filed for the County Commission races failed to qualify: John Minder of Sarasota, a professional engineer who has urged the commissioners for years to turn the county’s BOB building — officially, the Sarasota County Operations Center — into a shelter for homeless people. That building, which is located at 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd., in an industrial park east of Interstate-75, houses a number of county offices, including Permitting Division staff.

Beggs, Coe, Jouniari and Ramirez were able to qualify for their races through petition drives. However, the campaign finance records for Cosentino, Maio and Ziegler show that they paid the $5,198.04 filing fee in lieu of petitions. Cosentino loaned that amount to his campaign, his finance record note.

Maio far ahead in contributions for District 4 race

Commissioner Alan Maio. Rachel Hackney photo

Thus far, Maio’s contributions far exceed those of the other candidates in both the District 4 and the District 2 races, according to his latest campaign finance reports. As of his June 22 filing — the most recent data The Sarasota News Leaderwas able to review — Maio had a total of $107,468. He had spent $24,812.09.

He loaned his campaign $10,000 in April.

Maio filed for re-election on Dec. 13, 2017.

His largest expense thus far — noted in his May finance report — was a payment of $8,250 to Political Insights of Sarasota for “March, April and May consulting.” He also paid a total of $800 in May to The Thomson Group of Sarasota for communication and social media services.

According to the state’s Division of Corporations, the registered agent of Political Insights is Malcolm Harrison Stevenson. Rod Thomson, a well-known Republican activist in Sarasota, is the principal of The Thomson Group.

Maio did loan his campaign $10,000 in April, the records show.

Through June 22, Ramirez reported monetary and in-kind contributions adding up to $15,673. Her expenses so far totaled $812.15.

Lourdes Ramirez. Image from her campaign website

Ramirez filed for the seat on Feb. 20.

Her largest payments as of her last two campaign finance reports — covering May and the period of June 1 through June 22 — totaled $191.10 to the Board of County Commissioners for verification of her qualifying petitions.

She, too, has loaned money to her campaign: $3,300, which was recorded in her March report.

Wesley Beggs. Image from her campaign website

Beggs was just slightly behind Ramirez in fundraising through June 22, her records show. She had a total of $14,270.18, and she had spent $4,661. Her largest single expenditure reported in her most campaign finance filings was $129.99 to GoDaddy for her website.

Beggs, who filed on Feb. 8, may be in third place in terms of donations for the District 4 race, but she far outpaced Maio and Ramirez in May in terms of the number of monetary contributions she received: 71. The amounts ranged from $10 to $200.

In May, Maio reported 18 monetary contributions, while Ramirez had 15. Ramirez’s ranged from $25 to $200, while Maio’s were at the $100, $150 or $200 level.

From June 1 through June 22, Maio reported 51 monetary contributions, while Ramirez had 13 and Beggs reported 29.

Listed among Maio’s June contributions was $200 from the Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, an Orlando PAC.

Many of the individuals and firms who have given his campaign money are involved in real estate or development. Lee Wetherington, who heads up an eponymous homebuilding company, and Wetherington Investments were among those listed in Maio’s June records.

In contrast, many of Ramirez’s contributors logged in both her May and June reports were listed as retirees. Beggs also identified a number of her campaign donors as retirees, with others listed, for examples, as “Lab Tech,” “Computer Programmer” and “Student.”

Cosentino, who did not file for the District 4 race until June 14, listed no contributions in his June 22 report.

Ziegler well ahead of Coe, Jouniari

Christian Ziegler. Image from his campaign website

Through June 22, Christian Ziegler reported a total of $45,025.82 in monetary contributions and $400 in in-kind donations. He listed a total of $12,618.17 in expenses as of that date.

Ziegler reported only four new donations from June 1 through June 22, with two of them $10 apiece. However, his May report noted 128 contributions.

He filed for the race on Jan. 22, after incumbent Commissioner Paul Caragiulo announced that he would not seek re-election.

Like Maio, Ziegler has garnered considerable support among developers and real estate firms. He, too, had a contribution in May from Wetherington Investments. Among other donors in his most recent finance reports were Benderson Development Co.; Neal Land Ventures, Neal Signature Homes and Neal Communities — all of Lakewood Ranch; Schroeder Manatee Ranch, SMR North 70, SMR Northwest Land LLC, SMR Farms LLC, SMR Communities and SMR Aggregates, also all of Lakewood Ranch; Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, Lakewood Ranch Commerce Park LLC, LWR Commercial Realty, LWR Communities, LWR Development and LWR Main Street LLC, all of Lakewood Ranch; and Halfacre Construction Co.

Ziegler’s largest single expense in May was $938.96, which was a reimbursement to himself for “Facebook Ads & Email Program.” He also reimbursed himself $512.10 for shirts, phone service, printing and office supplies, the report says. Ziegler, like Maio, has been using the Venice CPA firm of Robinson, Hanks, Young and Roberts for accounting services. The Robinson in the firm is Sarasota County School Board member Eric Robinson, husband of former County Commissioner Christine Robinson.

Rita Jouniari. Image from her campaign website

Ziegler reported a $350 payment to that firm for accounting services in both his May and June 1-22 campaign finance records.

In June, other than his filing fee, Ziegler’s biggest expense was $749 to Bayside Media in Sarasota for video production and event photography.

Jouniari’s report for the period of June 1-22 shows her having received $15,392.04 altogether in monetary contributions and $80 in in-kind donations since she filed on March 15. Her expenses added up to $3,675.99.

Jouniari listed 78 donors in May and 16 in her June report. The amounts ranged from $5 to $200.

Alexandra Coe. Image from her campaign website

Her biggest itemized expenses in May were $500 to Kimberly Peers, a web consultant in Osprey; and $539.92 to Sahib Shrine in Sarasota for food. She also paid $197.38 that month to Minutemen Press in Sarasota for printing.

In her June report, Jouniari’s largest expense was $295, paid to Family Table in North Port for food.

Through June 22, Coe had taken in $7,350 and spent $447.84, her records show. However, she loaned her campaign $3,200 in June. Coe listed 35 other contributions from June 1 through June 22, with amounts ranging from $20 to $200.

Although she filed for the race on Jan. 24, Coe did not raise any money before May, according to her campaign finance reports.

In May, she accounted for two of the 19 contributions she listed, having given her campaign $260 in cash, the records show.

Coe’s largest expense in June was $162.67 to Sam’s Club in Sarasota, with the records noting that the expense was for a fundraiser. Her biggest payment in May was $150 to Intermedia Productions in Sarasota for “video editing services.”

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