Jouniari, Beggs Campaign on Red Tide



Democrats running for Sarasota County Commission showed a united front on Tuesday night as they rallied voters at an Indivisible event at Selby Library. Ruta Jouniari, the Democratic candidate in the District 2 race, and Wesley Beggs, the Democratic challenger in District 4, both promised policies that may curb or control red tide blooms.

“While red tide is a natural occurrence, we need to make sure to reduce it and better predict it,” Jouniari said. "We need to make sure we clean and update our sewer systems and do extra water testing for nitrogen and phosphates. Converting septic to sewer systems will make a huge impact. I will be fighting to make sure the environment is protected.”

Jouniari, who is running against Republican Christian Ziegler for the open District 2 seat, said Sarasota today has an unsustainable economy in many ways, and stressed finding solutions to workforce issues. But she also circled back to the environment. 

Beggs is facing incumbent County Commissioner Al Maio in the election, and said she will promote policies that better police pollution and also controlled growth that contributes to environmental woes.

“I’m a native Floridian, and I grew up knowing what wild manatees look like,” she said. “Now 10 percent of the adult manatee population has died.”

Both Beggs and Jouniari support a switch to single-member district elections to select county commissioners, a decision voters countywide will weigh in on during the Nov. 6 general election. But this year, the two candidates run county-wide, and they keep stressing to voters the need to vote both of them into office.

Of course, the last time a Democrat won an election to the Sarasota County Commission happened in 1966. “We have been to the moon since then,” Beggs said. “If we can send a couple of men to the moon, then we can send a couple women to the county commission.”

Jouniari said the decades of Republican rule have produced problems with infrastructure and unmitigated development.

The county commission candidates rallied alongside Democratic candidates for the Florida Legislature. The candidates will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Photo by Jacob Ogles: Ruta Jouniari and Wesley Beggs.

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