Mark Smith Running for Sarasota County Commission

Todays News

Mark Smith has designed buildings that make up the community for years. Now the architect wants a voice on the Sarasota County Commission on what the community looks like as a whole.

The chair-elect for the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has filed as a Republican running for the Sarasota County Commission in District 2. “A good deal of what the County Commission deals with is planning, construction and development projects,” he said. “This is what I do for a living.” 

Right now, Smith could face incumbent County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, though he’s hoping the incumbent retires instead of running in a single-member district. Ziegler has yet to file for re-election. Of course, the change in how commissioners win election could impact Smith as well. District 2 has more Democrats than Republicans.

Regardless, he’s faced challenging odds before. He ran against Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson in a GOP primary in 2010.

And he feels with single-member voting in effect, his leadership within Siesta Key should make a difference. Smith led a group of individuals who sought a compromise text amendment on hotel planning earlier this year before a controversial plan for a 170-room hotel was approved. The text amendment would have allowed for a smaller hotel with about 50 rooms, resulting in a much less intense development than the one now in the works.

“With commercial zoning, your highest revenue is a bar or a restaurant. The question is, do we need more restaurants and bars on Siesta Key?” Smith said. “Our thought was that a boutique hotel would support existing businesses.”

Smith said he’s looking forward to a campaign where he doesn’t need to reach voters throughout the county and can focus on District 2.

The Republican primary in District 2 right now includes longtime controlled growth activist Lourdes Ramirez, who previously challenged Maio in countywide races. Democrats in the race include former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins, Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody and beach activist Mike Cosentino.

The deadline to qualify is June 17 at noon.

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