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Still on the fence about running for office?

Written by on Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A filing deadline is approaching in two weeks.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: May 29, 2024

Host: Local elections are coming up Aug. 20 and Nov. 5. So you’re still on the fence to run for something in the next elections? Upset about the many offices with candidates that are running unopposed? You still have a two-week window to file, and some of those elected offices don’t even require a filing fee. We talked to the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections about the nuts and bolts of running for office.

Johannes Werner: The qualifying period for candidates in county elections is June 10 through June 14. Which means, you better act now if you want to run for something.

Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner:

Ron Turner

Ron Turner: Noon on June 10 through noon on June 14 is the qualifying period for county offices in the State of Florida. And during that time period, those individuals who are seeking election to certain offices will file their qualifying paperwork with the supervisor of elections in their respective County.

JW: There are several logistical and financial considerations.

RT: There are different requirements for each office. In Some offices, you know, we have candidates that have already submitted petitions. For those which that deadline has already passed, in order to qualify, some people will pay a qualifying fee for the office. That just depends on the office and whether they’re running as a partisan or a nonpartisan candidate. If you’re running for a partisan office, there’s a statement, and the oath that you have been a member of whatever party you’ve been under that you’re running under,  that you haven’t been a member of another political party and aligned 365 days.

JW: As to financial considerations, most of these offices are actually paid positions. But some of them are unpaid, such as the public hospital board and the County Charter Review Board.

Another one is the cost of running. There are filing fees for most offices, ranging from $5,000 to more than $10,000. You can save those fees if you find enough signatures on petitions for your candidacy. By now it’s obviously too late to begin collecting signatures. But there are certain offices – such as the Charter Review Board and the public hospital board – that don’t require any filing fees. Running for a Special District post will cost you $25.

As to fundraising: At the moment of filing, you must provide the name of someone willing to be your campaign treasurer.

Also, if you are running under a political party, you have to have been a registered voter with that party for at least a year.

JW: Finally: If you plan to run for city commissioner or council member, don’t knock at the Supervisor of Election’s door. You have to go to city hall to file.

RT: An individual would need to check with the city clerk’s office for the respective municipality. The Supervisor of Elections doesn’t qualify those candidates for office. I will end up placing them on the ballot once they’re qualified. I conduct the election. But I don’t actually handle the filing for municipalities. That’s separate under Florida law. Someone who is running for county office, they certainly can go to our website, or they can contact us and then we can walk them through individual kind of things for that particular office, which is easier than me kind of speaking in a broad brush, because it does vary so greatly.

JW: If it helps to motivate you: There are plenty of positions with candidates running unopposed, or with candidates from just one party. Unopposed in Sarasota County, there are the Clerk of the Court, Sheriff, Property Appraiser, and – get this – the Supervisor of Elections. County Commission District 1 – that’s the northern district – there are only two Republicans running. District 5 – in the south – nobody has filed to run against the incumbent. In County Charter Review Board districts 1, 3 and 4, there are only Republican candidates in each. In Charter Review Board District 2, there is only one Democrat. And in Charter Review Board District 5, the incumbent is running unopposed.

And then, there are oodles of what’s called Special District offices. Think along the lines of Tri-Par Estates Park and Recreation District or West Villages Improvement District.

To find out more, check out SarasotaVotes.gov, and look for “candidates” in the menu. In the drop-down, choose “filing and qualifying”. If you want to run for city office, look for the city clerks in the City of Sarasota, Venice or North Port.

Reporting for WSLR News, this has been Johannes Werner.


WSLR News aims to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 6pm.