Sarasota City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo is one step closer to a new seat.
After beating fellow City Commissioner Shannon Snyder 59.57% to 40.43% in Tuesday’s primary election, Caragiulo will now face write-in candidates Pete Theisen and Steve McAllister and no party affiliation candidate Alexandra Coe in the Nov. 4 general election for the District 2 County Commission seat Joe Barbetta is vacating.
The results held relatively steady as the ballots trickled in. Still, Caragiulo was cautious throughout the night, even when supporters at Caragiulos restaurant were encouraged by the latest update.
“You see what happened to Dewey?” Caragiulo said after the first results came in, showing a 59% to 41% lead.
He’s still cautious, stressing there’s more work to do before the general election is won. The work so far has been a change for the city commissioner; he’s been forced to connect with a larger electorate. If he ends up winning the commission seat, he said he would continue to emphasize making himself available to the county as a whole.
“There is a different dynamic throughout the county,” he said. “You’ve got to be a good listener, because there are a lot of micro issues you have to be very familiar with. You have to be willing to put the time in.”
Caragiulo, who announced his candidacy more than nine months before Snyder, generated more than four times as much in monetary donations through last week. Caragiulo also benefited from the endorsement of multiple sitting county commissioners, including Barbetta. He said the support of others — including businesses, other elected officials and neighborhood groups — helped guide him to victory.
“Nobody does this on their own,” Caragiulo said. “It’s an effort by a lot of people.”
Snyder did not return calls for comment.
Also moving forward in search of a County Commission seat is Alan Maio, who beat Lourdes Ramirez in Tuesday’s primary. He will face Democrat Ray Porter and no party affiliation candidate John Minder in the general election for the District 4 seat Nora Patterson is vacating. Patterson was elected to her fourth term as county commissioner in 2010.
Fifteen minutes after the polls closed, Maio had landed 69% of votes with 45 precincts counted.
After a half-hour, Maio’s victory was evident with 92 of 99 precincts counted. In total, Maio secured 69.56% of the vote, compared with Ramirez’s 30.44%.
Maio celebrated with his supporters — around 65 people — at Waterfrontoo in Nokomis. The local restaurant, which Eric Lagopoulos owns, served as the perfect party platform for Maio, a professed supporter of small businesses.
After each announced update, the crowd cheered, and supporters exchanged hugs and handshakes with the candidate.
“Once the big number came in, we knew we were in good shape,” Maio said.
When it became evident Maio had won, he thanked all of the volunteers who had helped him along the way — especially his wife, Nancy.
Maio said he asked his wife on her birthday in 2012 if he should run for commission. He warned her that in politics, people would dig into their life or say things that weren’t true.
Her response: “We’ll be fine. There’s nothing there. You’re pretty boring.”
“I’m delighted, really,” Maio said. “We had 700 people and more than 1,000 volunteer hours. I have a lot of thank-you’s to deliver.”
Once the results were in, current County Commissioners Barbetta, Carolyn Mason and Chairman Charles Hines appeared in support of Maio, along with Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight.
But the Maio team won’t be resting for long.
“We put in 100%,” Nancy said. “We were out this morning at 5 a.m. putting up signs … but we have to go on to November.”
Ramirez spent election night surrounded by friends, family and supporters at Gecko’s Grill and Pub on Clark Road. Ramirez, who had been awake since 3 a.m. campaigning with volunteers, said she was disappointed in the results.
“I thought it was going to be a close race,” Ramirez says. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to win, but I thought it would be close.”
Looking back at her time campaigning, Ramirez has no regrets.
“I got to meet so many wonderful people,” she says. “We had so many wonderful times.”
Two school board races — one in each county — resulted in a runoff Tuesday. Sarasota County School Board District 1 incumbent Bridget Ziegler (36.81% of the votes) and Ken Marsh (40.64%) will head to a runoff election Nov. 4. None of the four candidates secured the required 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
In Manatee County, School Board District Chairwoman Julie Aranibar secured 38.2% of the votes for the District 5 seat, while candidate Mary Cantrell garnered 36.2% of the votes. That election will head to a runoff.
In total, 42,464 Sarasota County residents voted in the primary election, for a 15.48% voter turnout. In Manatee County, 43,324 residents voted in the primary election, for a 20.6% voter turnout.
— David Conway, Jessica Salmond and Harriet Sokmensuer contributed to this report.
For complete election results, click here.
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