Ballard, Smith, Neunder Win County Commission contests

Todays News

Manatee County Commissioner Reggie Bellamy was booted from office, the last casualty of a conservative takeover on the board that started two years ago. Republican Amanda Ballard defeated the incumbent.

Meanwhile, Republican Mark Smith came out on top just barely in a Sarasota County Commission race over Democrat Fredd Atkins. That victory came despite Democrats holding a voter registration advantage in a county commission race for the first time in more than a half century.

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, comfortably won a second term, winning by nearly 11 percentage points over Democratic challenger Derek Reich in an evenly divided district

"It’s an honor to serve the people of Sarasota, and I’m humbled to continue the mission. We have big work ahead of us but tonight we celebrate and reflect on our successes across the state," she said.

Meanwhile, a Sarasota County sales tax won renewal with about almost 78% of voters coming out to support the levy.

A national red tide seemed to reach to local level races, guaranteeing all state lawmakers representing Sarasota or Manatee counties will be Republican in the next session. Republican Reps. Tommy Gregory and Mike Beltran both won re-election in Manatee County House seats.

At the federal level, U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, also won low-profile contests, and likely will join a new Republican majority in the U.S. House.

The same goes for the entire county commission for both board. Beyond the Ballard win in Manatee County Commission District 4 and Smith win in Sarasota County Commission District 2, Republican Joe Neunder won a Sarasota County Commission District 4 seat with 58.3% of the vote.

On the Sarasota City Commission, incumbent Jennifer Ahearn-Koch was the top vote-getter in an at-large contest, with Debbie Trice winning a seat as well while Dan Lobeck came in last place after making the three-candidate runoff. Rick Howard and Nick Pachota won seats on the Venice City Council and Philip Stokes secured a spot on the North Port City Commission.

In Manatee elections, Cindy Spray won a seat on the School Board after a District 2 runoff. Lisa Gonzalez Moore came out on top in a Bradenton City Council race in Ward 4 while Marianne Barnebey was re-elected in Ward 2. Sunshine Matthews won a Palmetto City Commission race.

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