Ziegler Juggles Dual Political Roles



Christian Ziegler has two important jobs this election season. As the Republican state committeeman for Sarasota County, he needs to keep turnout high to help GOP statewide and regional candidates win office. But this year, he also has to run his own campaign for Sarasota County Commissioner for District 2.

That means he’s quickly had to verse himself on environmental issues, traffic matters and economic diversity, topics that don’t necessarily know party lines. But he feels confident voters in November will elect him alongside other Republicans. 

Like all candidates this year, he’s been besieged with questions about red tide. And even while folks are hopeful Hurricane Michael may have finally pulled the algal blooms out to sea, he says county government must focus on the impact on the local economy and culture. “The reason a lot of folks move here and retire here is because we have unbelievable beauty right here in our backyard,” he says. While many of the pollution problems may stem from nutrients in Lake Okeechobee, far outside county jurisdiction, Ziegler says the county must do what it can locally to stop pollutants, including modernizing stormwater systems, getting more people off septic tanks and maintaining an aggressive fertilizer ban.

In terms of growth management, Ziegler says he’d like to see a better grid system with roads east of Interstate-75 so that more people move north and south through the region without hopping on Interstate-75. “The truth is highways are supposed to be used to take people through areas, to take people from Atlanta to Miami,” he said. “It shouldn’t be people going from Downtown Sarasota to Lakewood Ranch. There should be other ways to do that.”

He wants to do what he can as well to further diversify the local economy, and he also feels affordable housing must be addressed with urgency. The issues in Ziegler’s eyes are tied together. The region can’t forget half the kids in Sarasota County schools get free or reduced lunch today. Families need cheaper places to live, but the area also needs better access to higher-paid jobs.

As for any connection between his partisan work and his county run? Ziegler knows turnout for the party helps Republicans running for county like himself and incumbent County Commissioner Al Maio, so he’s got plenty of incentive to get right-leaning voters to the polls. And he actually hopes his work for state and national candidates means better influence as a commissioner. In other words, maybe knowing people in the White House means he could influence decisions about Lake Okeechobee.

Ziegler faces Democrat Ruta Journiari in the Sarasota County Commission District 2 contest on Nov. 6. The election is open to all Sarasota County voters.

Photo courtesy Ziegler campaign: Christian Ziegler greets voters.

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