Wesley Beggs, 25
Sarasota County Commission Candidate

Your Nickname It’s not a nickname per se, but now that I’m running for office a lot of my friends jokingly refer to me as Wesley Knope, after the lead character of the TV show Parks and Recreation. In the show, Leslie Knope is an enthusiastic government employee that has dedicated her life to serving her community with relentless positivity.  Your Brand Tagline Putting the public back in public service. Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? Leader.  Biggest a-ha moment?  I don’t really have “aha!” moments, but “why not?” moments. For me, it’s been about adopting an attitude that listens to cans instead of cannots, rather than one singular moment of clarity. Once you tap into that mindset, you’re practically unstoppable and that approach has led me to my biggest achievements. I founded my media agency at 23 and now, at 25, I’m a candidate for the Sarasota County Commission in District 4.  When did you feel helpless?  In today’s political climate it can be easy to feel helpless and unheard. Tensions are at an all-time high, but we have to stay focused on the positive. When I look around, I see so much hope and that’s what keeps me going. I see people that are standing up for their neighbors, I see a young generation that is ready to change the world, and I see the millions out there striving to bring out the best in America and her people.  Has Sarasota failed millennials? Sarasota doesn’t do a great job of listening to its millennials. That’s not very surprising when we are so vastly outnumbered by our older counterparts, but it is frustrating to feel like our genuine concerns are falling on deaf ears. Affordable housing, for example, has been a major concern for years but it feels like no progress is being made even though we’re in a development boom. That’s a significant part of why I decided to run for office. We lack fundamental representation and, in many ways, our local officials are disconnected from our needs. My heart goes out to . . . Everybody. I’m a sucker for that quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” There’s enough hate and animosity in the world, kindness is free and never wasted.   In Sarasota-Bradenton, we  do too much building and too little planning.  What's next? Winning my election in November! I am looking forward to serving our community as the next Sarasota County Commissioner in District 4 and I hope my campaign inspires other young professionals to get involved.   



Annaliese Rodriguez, 18
S’MACKS Burgers Manager

Your Nickname My friends call me “Ani” but weird enough all my family calls me “Liese.” It is kind of like my name sandwiched together.  Your Brand Tagline  “You can sleep when you’re dead.” Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? I would rather be a leader. I love working with people and learning how people work best together. It’s kind of beautiful.   Biggest a-ha moment? I plan my life out to a T. I don’t really ever have Aha moments. When anything changes i just breathe and work through it. When did you feel helpless?  When Hurricane Irma hit, S’macks was without power for five days. When we finally got power back, our employees to work and food nicely prepped, our point of sale computers wouldn’t take any orders. We opened our doors for about 15 minutes when we realized that even though we prepared as best we could, we couldn’t stay open. Another manager and I worked so hard to get those doors open, but there was nothing we could do until a tech manager could come out. It was disappointing, but I learned that I love S’macks! Our employees came in to help open and even close. It was great. I’m still so thankful for my team’s hard work that week.  Has Sarasota failed millennials?  Sarasota is just so expensive. Millennials have been pushed to go to college and to be successful but then they can’t afford college, or rent, or car insurance. Many are working some part-time job trying to supplement financial demands.