Read more: Sarasota, Manatee county general election results 2022
Republican candidates held their party’s Sarasota County Commission seats in a pair of races contested against Democrats in single-member voting districts on Tuesday night.
In the closest race, Mark Smith edged former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins by about 1.5 percentage points with 31 of 31 voting precincts reporting in District 2. Smith won 18,966 votes (50.72%) to Atkins’ 18,425 votes (49.28%).
It was the first election in District 2 held under the provisions of single-member districts in which commissioners are elected by the voters in their districts vs. countywide voting. Sarasota County voters passed the system of voting in 2018, then upheld the practice again this year.
In District 4, Joe Neunder defeated Daniel Keuther by nearly 9,000 votes. The tally with 25 of 25 precincts was 27,794 (59.5%) to 18,915 (40.5%). District 4's Al Maio was term-limited from running for re-election.
"I am very happy,'' Neunder said Tuesday night. "I am very excited. I am looking forward to getting to work."
Neunder and Smith will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 in the commission chambers of the county's administration building in Sarasota. Vice Chair Ron Cutsinger is expected to take over for Maio as chair of the county commission.
Neunder said he hopes to have an effect on affordable housing and the potential for reopening Midnight Pass on Siesta Key.
"I love my community, and I am looking forward to getting sworn in and getting to work," he said.
On his campaign Facebook page, Smith posted an image of himself with the phrase "We did it.''
"Thank you for your support!'' he wrote. "I look forward to serving each and every one of you in District 2."
Atkins’ run was expected to be close as District 2, which covers much of the city of Sarasota and the barrier islands, leans more Democratic than any other County Commission district following a redrawing of boundaries in 2021. District 4 cuts a swath across the middle of the county between the city and the greater Lakewood Ranch area to the north and Venice and North Port to the south.
Incumbent Christian Ziegler chose not to run for re-election in District 2. In August, Atkins won the primary with 35.24% of the vote, edging City Commissioner Hagen Brody and Mike Cosentino for the Democrat nomination. Brody got 34.20% and Cosentino 30.57% of a total of 10,557 votes cast.
Smith is a 67-year-old architect is running for public office for the first time. He’s a 50-year resident of Sarasota.
Neunder is former a Venice city commissioner and owns his own chiropractic practice.
Lauren Tronstad and Eric Garwood of the Observer staff contributed to this report.