Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Democratic Party accuses Mast campaign of foul play

The Sarasota Democrat Party charges Republicans intentionally locked them out of the District 1 County Commission primary with the late addition of a write-in candidate.
The Sarasota Democrat Party charges Republicans intentionally locked them out of the District 1 County Commission primary with the late addition of a write-in candidate.
Courtesy image
  • Sarasota
  • News
  • Share

The Sarasota Democratic Party is crying foul over what it says is a tactic to lock its party members out of the Sarasota County Commission District 1 primary election on Aug. 20. 

Previously, with only Republicans Teresa Mast and Alexandra Coe running for the primary — and effectively the general election win since no Democrats have filed — then Hope Williams joined the race late as a write-in candidate. 

Under Florida statute, if candidates from only one political party file to run for office, then all voters can vote in the universal primary. The addition of Williams to the ballot as an independent makes it a closed primary, locking registered Democrats out of the polls in August. 

Williams, the Democratic Party charges in its news release, is the 20-year-old daughter of candidate Mast's campaign manager, Traci Williams.

Responding to a request for comment, Mast said, "Why would I comment on an accusation from the Democratic Party when they, themselves have put write-ins in races around Florida to close primaries?"

Having raised nearly $238,000 in campaign contributions compared to Coe’s nearly $17,000, Mast is the apparent favorite to succeed Mike Moran in District 1. Moran’s second and final term ends this fall, and he has filed to run for Sarasota County Tax Collector. 

According to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections website, Williams lists zero dollars in campaign funds.

"Several years ago, the Florida Times-Union labeled them the Mickey Mouse candidates: individuals who abuse Florida's write-in loophole," said Daniel Kuether, chair of the Sarasota County Democratic Party, in a statement issued by the party. "The latest Mickey Mouse candidate in Sarasota County is Hope Williams.”

Kuether characterized Mast as the candidate most favored by developers. 

Mast is a member of the development community, currently president of the Davin Group, a general contracting company she has managed for more than three decades. She is a member and former chair of the Sarasota County Planning Commission and spent a decade working in Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Services, Neighborhood Services, and Economic Development.

She is a member of the Building Industry Association board and the founding chair of the Professional Women in Building Council. She has been honored with the Woman of the Year Award from the National Association of Home Builders, and her husband, Jon Mast, has been the CEO of the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association since 2015.

"Every election is important, and every vote counts," said Kuether in the statement. "This loophole needs to be closed once and for all. In the meantime, Democrats are hopeful that Republicans will continue to fight back against land overdevelopment in our county and vote on the issue.”

This story was updated to include a response from Teresa Mast.



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Latest News