+ Democrat enters County Commission race
A Democrat has stepped into the race for the District 4 seat on the Sarasota County Commission.
Ray Porter, 56, announced his candidacy May 16. Porter is running in response to the county’s procurement issues over the years, to encourage greater economic diversity as the economy recovers and to support sustainability, according to a news release. The 34-year Sarasota County resident is currently director of communications for the Sarasota Association of Realtors.
Joining the 2014 General Election race, Porter will face the winner of the primary between Republicans Al Maio and Lourdes Ramirez. The three candidates are vying to replace Commissioner Nora Patterson, who has represented Siesta Key and middle portions of the county since 1998.
Maio has raised about $98,000 since he filed to run for office last year, while Ramirez has raised just more than $24,000.
Adding a Democrat to the race means county voters will only be able to vote in the primary of the party for which they are registered, if all candidates qualify.
Republican Marie Nisco defeated Porter by roughly 5% to take the District 5 seat on the Charter Review Board in 2008. Porter raised more than $1,500 during the campaign for that position.
+ Sarasota County honors retiring fire chief
During a meeting Wednesday, Sarasota County commissioners thanked Fire Chief Mike Tobias for 35 years of service before his retirement this year, and County Administrator Tom Harmer awarded him with a golden bugle.
“There are certain positions, I think, in a professional career that when you earn the title, you carry for life,” said Harmer, who served as fire chief in Titusville. “Once a fire chief, always a fire chief.”
Tobias took on his role as fire chief in 2011, and has served with the Sarasota County Fire Department since 1979. He implemented “P.R.I.D.E.” a motto for the fire department that stands for professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence.
“I’ve learned a lot from you, quite honestly, chief,” said Commissioner Christine Robinson.
“Obviously, (Tobias) will be very hard to replace,” Harmer said. The county administrator has met with more than 200 members of staff to gather information that will help with the search for a new fire chief.
“It’s been a true pleasure and a privilege to serve Sarasota County,” Tobias said.
In the May 8 Black Tie & Tales column, we incorrectly stated a “Surprising Sunday” item. Linda Salomon recalled celebrating Gloria Moss’ birthday in Beaune, France, with her husband, Gilbert, and Moss’ late husband, Marty.
Meetings & agendas
Downtown Improvement District Meeting — 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 27, SRQ Media Studio, City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota.