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Background Briefing

Sarasota County Elections

With the approach of election year, WSLR is here to provide information regarding the upcoming 2024 elections.

Not registered to vote? Solve that issue by registering to vote online! Florida citizens can register to vote here.

For those looking to vote by mail, don’t forget that vote-by-mail requests made prior to November 8, 2022 have expired. Requests can be made online or in person at any election office.

Below are detailed explanations of the Sarasota County offices up for election during the 2024 year. The candidates of each office are also included with a brief description of who they are and what they stand for.

Offices up for Election

Property Appraiser

The Sarasota County Property Appraiser estimates the market value of a piece of property. This estimated amount is the basis upon which the property is appraised. Florida law states that every property must be inspected at least once every five years.

Candidates

Bill Furst

Furst was first elected Sarasota County Property Appraiser in August of 2008 when he ran his campaigns on the principles of fairness and transparency. Furst has over 40 years of experience within the real state industry, beginning his career as a Real Estate Appraiser in Coral Gables, Florida. He is a licensed real estate broker and building contractor and former president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors. He is a current member of the executive committee and board of directors of the Florida Association of Realtors and has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Realtors since 1998.

Tax Collector

The Sarasota County Tax Collector is responsible for directing, planning, organizing, budgeting, and implementing policies that impact local and state government. They are charged with the collection of ad valorem taxes levied by the county, the school board, any special taxing districts, and all municipalities within the county. They participate in the management of the executive branches of state government including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Department of Revenue.

Candidates

Charles Bear

Bear has been director of tax operations at the Charlotte County Tax Collector from 2006-2012, and again from 2019 to today. In between, he helped design a tax collection product for Thomson Reuters, and was a director for West Florida Business Systems, a company that provides tax services to businesses. He says that thanks to 20 years of working for both tax collectors and vendors, he has "an understanding of the inner workings of an elected or appointed official's office while also understanding the needs to make a profit by a vendor." He has also been teaching specific delinquent tax knowledge though the Florida Department of Revenues. About his professional beginnings at Sears he has this to say: "While many may discount a retail beginning, I believe it may be my most enlightening journey. Retail encourages speed and demonstrates that the customer is always right."

Mike Moran

Moran is currently serving as chair of the Sarasota County Commission. He was elected to the county commission in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He served as the vice chair in 2019, then as chair in 2020. Moran says he advocates conservative policies and makes it his goal to make government accountable to taxpayers and fully represent all constituents. He is committed to maintaining Sarasota as a "world-class community". Moran owned a payroll and insurance firm in Michigan before selling it and moving to Sarasota in 2002, giving him extensive experience in business.

Supervisor of Elections

The Sarasota Supervisor of Elections is responsible for conducting all public elections in the county, overseeing voter registration, maintaining election equipment, and overseeing adjustments made on registered voter rolls when necessary.

The Supervisor of Elections is also responsible for overseeing candidate qualifications, finance reports, and making those reports available to the public. Other responsibilities include: maintaining statistics on election results, voting history and voter registration and maintaining precinct information.

Candidates

Ron Turner

Turner has been Sarasota County's Supervisor of Elections since 2016 and he was re-elected in 2020. Turner served as chief of staff for the Sarasota County elections office in 2011 up until his election in 2016. He began his career as a city council member and deputy mayor for the City of Arcadia before serving as supervisor of elections for DeSoto County , Florida. Turner currently serves as president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections statewide association (FSE).

County Commissioner (District 1)

The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners consists of five members who serve staggered four-year terms. No commissioner may serve more than two consecutive terms, and elections are held every two years. Commissioners are elected by votes in the district in which they reside. The county commission district map can be found here.

Commissioners are responsible for overseeing Sarasota County’s management and administration. They represent the county’s interests at the state and federal level, participating in planning, and managing budgeting and finances.

Candidates

Teresa Mast

Mast is a member and former chair of the Sarasota County Planning Commission, and has also served as the vice chair of the Citizen's Tax Oversight Committee. She has also spent a decade working in Sarasota County's Planning and Development Services, Neighborhood Service, and Economic Development. Mast is a member of the Building Industry Association board and the founding chair of the Professional Women in Building Council. Mast is committed to lowering taxes, reducing traffic, and investing in talent.

County Commissioner (District 3)

The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners consists of five members who serve staggered four-year terms. No commissioner may serve more than two consecutive terms, and elections are held every two years. Commissioners are elected by votes in the district in which they reside. The county commission district map can be found here.

Commissioners are responsible for overseeing Sarasota County’s management and administration. They represent the county’s interests at the state and federal level, participating in planning, and managing budgeting and finances.

Candidates

Tom Knight

Knight is a career law enforcement officer and was Sarasota County's Sheriff for 12 years.
Knight is committed to protecting Sarasota County families and businesses by increasing representation within the Sarasota community. He wants to keep special interests and "hidden agendas" out of Sarasota County.

Neil Rainford

Rainford was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to fill the Sarasota County Commission District 3 seat. He is a senior executive with Sarasota-based Mullet's Aluminum Products Inc. Rainford has served the Sarasota community as a former member of the Sarasota County Planning Commission and the Charter Review Board. He has also been twice elected Secretary of the Republican Executive Committee. He also formerly served on the Board of Trustees of Tabernacle Church.

County Commissioner (District 5)

The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners consists of five members who serve staggered four-year terms. No commissioner may serve more than two consecutive terms, and elections are held every two years. Commissioners are elected by votes in the district in which they reside. The county commission district map can be found here.

Commissioners are responsible for overseeing Sarasota County’s management and administration. They represent the county’s interests at the state and federal level, participating in planning, and managing budgeting and finances.

Candidates

Ron Cutsinger

Cutsinger was elected to the Sarasota County Commission in November 2020. He served as vice chair in 2022 and is currently serving as chair for 2023. He represents the commission on the boards of the Economic Development Council of Sarasota County, Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, West Coast Inland Navigation District, Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy, and Visit Sarasota. He also previously served on the boards of the Coastal and Heartland Estuary Partnership, and Suncoast Continuum of Care Leadership Council. Cutsinger also holds a Series 24 Securities Principal License and is certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a registered investment advisor.

School Board (District 2)

The School Board of Sarasota County implements policies for the school district that advance and enhance educational opportunities for students. School board members are also responsible for appointing a school superintendent who directs the day-to-day academic and operational strategies of the school district.

The school board is comprised of five members elected county-wide, and each school board member serves four-year terms on an alternating basis. The school board district map can be found here.

Candidates

Liz Barker

Barker has been a hands-on parent for nine years by volunteering, leading the PTO at Lakeview Elementary, and contributing to the School Advisory Committee (SAC). Her past experience as a school psychologist allows her to have expertise in various educational areas such as cognitive assessments or behavior interventions. Barker aims to focus on student achievement, teacher support, and keeping culture wars out of the boardroom. Barker wishes to make teaching positions more desirable while protecting the rights for all parents. She also wishes to bring transparency to the school board and remove politics from schools.

Karen Rose

Rose has filed for re-election for her seat on the school board, a position she has held since 2020. Rose was a an educator and behavioral specialist before becoming the principal at Brookside Middle and Sarasota Middle School. Rose advocates for increasing the Sarasota district's reading achievement while eliminating common core, Critical Race Theory, and social engineering programs. She emphasizes the importance of student success in reading, writing, and math.

School Board (District 3)

The School Board of Sarasota County implements policies for the school district that advance and enhance educational opportunities for students. School Board members are also responsible for appointing a school superintendent who directs the day-to-day academic and operational strategies of the school district.

The school board is comprised of five members elected county-wide, and each school board member serves four-year terms on an alternating basis. The school board district map can be found here.

Candidates

Thomas Edwards

Edwards currently holds a seat on the Sarasota School Board and is now running for re-election. Edwards is the co-founder and owner of two successful New York businesses, giving him over 40 years of entrepreneurial experiences. He also has 11 years of experience in small-business advocacy at the state legislative level within the New York State General Assembly. Edwards prides himself on his accomplishments during his 2020 term, such as building community partnerships and responding to the shortage of healthcare workers. He advocates for the freedom of teachers, the rights of students and parents, as well as the preservation of public schools.

Gregory Wood

Woods is an experienced business owner, executive director, board member, and community member. He moved to the Sarasota County area to pursue his career in working with today's youth. Woods is determined to maintain parental rights in education and emphasizes the use of classical education.

Hospital Board at Large (Seat 2)

The
Sarasota
County
Public
Hospital
Board
(SCPHB)
is
responsible
for
the
Sarasota
Memorial
Health Care
System
(SMHCS).
The
SCPHB
is also responsible for supervising and directing its officers and governing efforts to carry out the Board’s mission. The Board is responsible for establishing policy guidelines, evaluating proposals brought to the SCPHB, and monitoring programs and activities.

Candidates

Kevin Cooper

Cooper currently works as the Vice President for Communications and Strategic Initiatives for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium and has served in this position since 2019. He previously served as the leader of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and worked as the head of the chamber from 2016 to 2018. Cooper earned his Bachelor's of Business Administration at Kent State University before pursuing his Master's at Florida State University.

To see a complete list of candidates that have filed to run for office in Sarasota County, please visit: https://www.sarasotavotes.gov/Candidates-Committees/Local-Candidate-Committee-and-Party-Reports


sarasota city commission races

City Commissioner (District 2)

There are five city commissioners: two are elected at-large and three are elected from single-member districts. The commissioners are responsible for selecting a Mayor and Vice Mayor in November of each year. These individuals are chosen from among the city commission members. The city commission is responsible for appointing a City Auditor and Clerk and a City Attorney.

The city commission meets the first and third Monday of every month. These meetings take place at 9:00 AM in City Hall and the public is welcome to attend.

The city commission district map can be found here.

Candidates

Ronald Kashden

Kashden previously worked as CFO of a multi-billion dollar private equity fund and he's a former CEO of a successful technology firm. He has also trained as a CPA, giving Kashden 30 years of professional experience analyzing complex systems and making important decisions. Kashden is focused on restoring Sarasota residents' voices to City Hall and making sound decisions regarding finances. Kashden has also emphasized that he will not accept developer donations.

City Commissioner (District 3)

There are five city commissioners: two are elected at-large and three are elected from single-member districts. The commissioners are responsible for selecting a Mayor and Vice Mayor in November of each year. These individuals are chosen from among the city commission members. The city commission is responsible for appointing a City Auditor and Clerk and a City Attorney.

The city commission meets the first and third Monday of every month. These meetings take place at 9:00 AM in City Hall and the public is welcome to attend.

The city commission district map can be found here.

Candidates

Kathy Kelley Ohlrich

Ohlrich is a 30-year resident of Glen Oaks and represented Glen Oaks Ridge as former president of the City Coalition of Neighborhood Associations (CCNA). She also served on the Architectural Review Committee as secretary and president. She previously served on the CCNA Executive Committee as D3 representative, Vice Chair, and two terms as chair in 2015 and 2016. She is a co-founder of Conserve Bobby Jones Now and received the Conservation of the Year Award from The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast in 2022.