Considering all the effort that went into his victorious primary campaign, City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo is hesitant to get too far ahead of himself.
Caragiulo defeated fellow City Commissioner and former Mayor Shannon Snyder, 59.6% to 40.4%, in the race for the District 2 County Commission seat. 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 were revealed, showing a 59% to 41% lead.
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.
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.
“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.”
Still, Caragiulo’s work as the District 2 representative, a portion of which sits in the southern part of the city of Sarasota, would also include a continued focus on the city itself.
“I am an absolute, committed, dyed-in-the-wool urbanist,” he said after announcing his candidacy. “And I think the county is much better at recognizing the importance of the city’s infrastructure and what the city provides.”
Caragiulo generated more than four times more than Snyder in monetary donations after declaring nine months earlier. Caragiulo positioned himself as someone welcoming to economic development.
Caragiulo also benefited from the endorsement of multiple sitting county commissioners, including Barbetta. Caragiulo 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.
Snyder, who did not return calls for comment, will be departing the City Commission along with Caragiulo later this year. Unlike Caragiulo, his future in public office isn’t clear. As he declared, he said he did not hesitate to run despite risking his city position.
“You have a set of evaluations, you make the decision, and you move,” Snyder said at the time.
County Commission candidate Alan Maio is already looking ahead to the general election in November.
After winning Tuesday’s primary with 69.7% of the vote to Lourdes Ramirez’s 30.4%, Maio said he spent Wednesday delivering thank-you’s to his supporters. Then, he’ll be back in the race for the District 4 seat.
He will face Democrat Ray Porter and no party affiliation candidate John Minder.
Maio doesn’t plan to make any major changes to his campaign strategy: he said he will continue using signs, donations, mailers and the help of his volunteers. As of their last financial reports in August, Maio had raised $121,950, Porter has raised $2,907, and Minder has raised no monetary donations.
If elected, Maio believes he will mesh well with the other commissioners. He thought his education in accounting and his professional experience as a planner would bring something a little different to the commission.
“I moved here because it’s a beautiful county,” Maio said. “Every decision I make will be to keep it as beautiful and as lovely as it is.”
Commissioner Nora Patterson, who is leaving her seat after reaching her term limit, said leaving office would be both sad and healthy, and she will take a break from county government issues for a little while.
“I feel like I’m leaving it better than I came,” Patterson said.
Patterson said she is sure Maio will serve Siesta Key, which sits in District 4, well.
“Siesta Key will continue to be a concern,” Patterson said. “It’s a treasure of the county.”
Ramirez said that no matter what the outcome of the race, she’d already blocked out the next several days for some pampering and relaxation.
Other than that, she didn’t have any plans past the primary.
“I don’t know if politics will be in my future, but I never say never,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said she was sure she would “bounce back” and do something. One thing she learned during the primary race was the expectation of voters.
“People are really looking to see something different happen,” Ramirez said.