Atkins will run for the District 1 seat, a position currently held by Michael Moran.
Fredd Atkins, who served three terms as Sarasota's mayor, filed paperwork to run for Sarasota County Commissioner in District 1 on Wednesday morning.
Atkins, running for the seat held by Commission Vice Chair Michael Moran, is the first candidate to file under the new single-member district system. This is Atkins' fourth time running for a commission seat, and, if elected, he would be the first Democrat to serve on the board in 50 years and the first African-American man to do so.
“I plan to move our county forward on these issues by being the first one to break the shackles of the one-party Republican monopoly and its special interests. Our quality of life is at stake here,” Atkins said in a statement. “Our current county commissioner has voted the party line, and has not represented the interests of our district or even the county at large."
Atkins highlighted over-development, environmental issues and facilitating access to affordable housing as key issues he'd like to tackle, if elected.
Atkins was born in the Overtown segregated district of Sarasota and moved to Newtown in 1958. In various leadership roles, Atkins helped establish Sarasota Bay as a National Estuary Destination and an advanced wastewater treatment in the city.
“Fredd is an icon in this district,” said Sarasota City Commissioner and former Mayor Willie C. Shaw in a statement. “As a social worker, teacher, entrepreneur, city commissioner and mayor, he has the experience to lead Sarasota County into the future. He will be an honest and independent county commissioner, really serving the people of District 1 for the first time, and serving all citizens in the county.”
In the 2016 election, Atkins won the vote within District 1, which has more registered Democratic voters, but lost the countywide vote to Moran. Now, with the County Commission redrawing district lines ahead of the 2020 elections, Atkins is unsure of where he will stand.
“If the commission does not gerrymander this district, we definitely will be favored to win. If they do change the district, we will just work harder," he said.
Atkins will begin his campaign with a fundraiser Wednesday, Sept. 25, at The Columbus Banquet Hall, 4880 Fruitville Road. To sponsor or attend, residents can call 941-315-4213. For more information, visit Atkins' website.
Primary elections are set for August, 2020 with the general election planned in November 2020.