Primary vote turnout surpasses marks in 2018 and 2016, unofficial results show

Final pairings set for two County and City commission races, while Hoffman elected new sheriff

This is the unofficial voter turnout figure for the Aug. 18 Primary, as of Aug. 20. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections

Close to one-third of registered Sarasota County voters — 32.27% — participated in the Aug. 18 Primary Election, choosing a new sheriff and determining the pairings for City and County commission seats that will be decided in the November General Election.

The figure for this week’s election turnout slightly surpassed the 31.95% mark for the August 2018 Primary, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office records show. For that Primary two years ago, the number of registered voters was 313,824, the records note.

Turnout was 26.08% in the August 2016 Primary.

The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office reported that 106,338 of the 329,553 registered voters cast ballots in the Aug. 18 Primary. Of those, 74,390 returned vote-by-mail ballots, Rachel Denton, communications and voter outreach manager for the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Office, told The Sarasota News Leader. Another 8,935 citizens participated in the early voting provided by the office, she added.

Saturday, Aug. 15, was the biggest day for early voting, Denton reported, when 1,166 people cast ballots. She offered the following early voting breakdown by day:

  • 8/8 – 1142.
  • 8/9 – 563.
  • 8/10 – 959.
  • 8/11 – 920.
  • 8/12 – 965.
  • 8/13 – 1,042.
  • 8/14 – 1,131.
  • 8/15 – 1,166.
  • 8/16 – 1,047.

In response to another News Leader question, Denton wrote in an Aug. 19 email that the voter breakdown by registration was as follows: Republicans — 48,132; Democrats — 44,650; and nonpartisan — 13,556.

Denton did caution that all the data she provided was unofficial as of the morning of Aug. 19.

As for results: In the race to replace retiring Sheriff Tom Knight — who first was elected in 2008 — Col. Kurt Hoffman, Knight’s chief deputy and general counsel, won 72.61% of the votes. His opponent, Paul Fern, a former member of the Sheriff’s Office, received 27.39% of the total, according to the unofficial returns.

The unofficial vote total in that race was 93,862. Since both men are Republicans, all registered voters were able to cast ballots.

This year, for the first time — thanks to a shift in the timeline for Sarasota City Commission elections — two seats were on the Aug. 18 Primary ballot.

These are the unofficial results of the two City Commission races on Aug. 18. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections

Former City Commissioner Terry Turner and incumbent Commissioner Liz Alpert were the top two vote-getters in District 2, a city news release pointed out, so they will be on the ballot for the Nov. 3 General Election.

Turner, who won support from several past city commissioners, as well as environmental organizations, received 30.14% of the votes, according to the unofficial totals.

Alpert was in second place, with 29.13%; followed by former County Commissioner Joe Barbetta in third place, with 16.11%.

Business owner Martin Hyde, a frequent critic of the City Commission, captured 10.99% of the votes, followed by Jerry Wells, with 7.76%; and Don Patterson, with 5.87%, the unofficial tallies show.

In a three-person race for the District 3 seat, Daniel A. Clermont was the top vote-getter, with 41.66% of the votes. Erik “E” Arroyo won 30.44% of the votes to advance with Clermont to the Nov. 3 General Election.

Rob Grant was in third place, with 27.9% of the votes, according to the unofficial totals.

Dan Clermont. Image from his campaign website

A Green Bay, Wis., native, Clermont says on his campaign website that he has run and built small businesses “virtually [his] entire life,” including an embroidery and screen-printing company and a laboratory air quality and renovations operation. He is a resident of Arlington Park.

Arroyo notes on his campaign website that he is a first-generation American who is an attorney specializing in business matters and wills.

Another Arlington Park resident, Grant served as a wire service reporter for a Dow Jones news service for many years, his website says.

The third open City Commission seat — for District 1 — had only two candidates: Incumbent Willie Shaw and challenger Kyle Scott. As a result, the victor also will be decided in November.

Finally, the pairings were determined for two County Commission seats.

Incumbent Commissioner Michael Moran won 51.78% of the unofficial vote total in the Republican Primary for the District 1 seat while his East County challenger, Mike Hutchinson, took 48.22% of the vote.

In that race, the highest voter turnout was in Precinct 127, with 2,485, or30.84% of the registered voters in that precinct, the unofficial results show. That precinct is located at Knights of Columbus on Fruitville Road. Precinct 133, located at Grace Community, which stands at 8000 Bee Ridge Road, had the second highest number, 2,362, which represents 35.34% of the registered voters in that precinct.

The precinct in District 1 with the largest percentage of voters — 46.72% — was Precinct 121, which is at The Meadows Community Center. Moran lives in The Meadows.

This is the map for Precinct 121. Image courtesy Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office

In the District 5 race to replace Commissioner Charles Hines, who is stepping down because of term limits, Ron Cutsinger of Englewood won 64.96% of the vote in the Republican Primary, with North Port Commissioner Christopher B. Hanks receiving 35.04%.

In November, Moran will face Democrat Mark E. Pienkos of Sarasota, while Cutsinger will compete against Democrat Alice White of North Port.

As this is the first year in decades that a Single-Member District county Charter Amendment has been in effect, only voters in Districts 1 and 5 who were registered Republicans could cast ballots in those respective Primaries.

In the Moran/Hutchinson race, the unofficial tally of voters was 10,340. In the Cutsinger/Hanks race, the total was 7,543.

The third open commission seat — for District 3 — will see incumbent Commissioner Nancy Detert facing Democrat Cory Hutchinson of North Port.

The official results for the Primary in Sarasota County were to be determined by the Canvassing Board during a meeting scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20, which was after the deadline for this issue of the News Leader.