In the days following Nov. 3, all eyes were on the presidential race and the extended vote counting. After four and a half long days, former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner and will become the 46th president of the United States. While local races are not as heavily contested and watched as nationwide races, they have a large impact on the day-to-day lives of Sarasota residents. Students who registered to vote with their New College address were able to vote in a total of 26 races, most of which were local elections.
President-elect Joe Biden and his supporters hoped that highly-contested Florida and its 29 electoral votes would support the Democrats, but approximately 99 percent of the votes in Florida have been counted and officials have called the state in the Republicans’ favor. The majority, 51.2 percent, of voters voted for incumbent Donald Trump. Voters in Sarasota County also chose Trump over Biden, with 54.7 percent of the 271,850 total ballots cast.
Republican incumbent, Vern Buchanan, beat the Democratic challenger, Margaret Good, for District 16’s seat in the House of Representatives with 55.5 percent of the votes. District 16 comprises southern Hillsborough County, all of Manatee County and northern Sarasota County. Good was formerly a representative in the Florida House of Representatives in District 72. In this election, District 72 flipped to Republican with Fiona McFarland beating Democrat Drake Buckman with 54.7 percent of the votes.
Republican Joe Gruters beat Democrat Katherine Norman and Independent Robert Kaplan for a seat in the Florida state senate to represent District 23 with 56.3 percent of the votes. Gruters served in the state House of Representatives from 2016 through 2018 and was elected to the state senate for the first time in 2018. His current term will last until 2024. Since 2019, Gruters has also been the chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
Even more localized races, like the ones pertaining only to Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota are still important. The decisions made by these elected officials have a direct impact on Sarasota residents and New College students.
Republican Ed Brodsky received 57.1 percent of the vote and secured his victory over Democrat Betsy Young in the race for State Attorney of the 12th Judicial Circuit. This circuit includes Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties. This will be Brodsky’s third term as chief prosecutor. The 12th Circuit hears cases that are not assigned to county courts as well as appeals from the county courts.
The Board of County Commissioners is in charge of ensuring economic growth and encouraging tourism as well as creating and voting on county wide laws. The board held three races in this election. In District 1, Michael A. Moran was reelected over Mark E. Pienkos. Moran, who is the current chair of the commission, received 55.9 percent of the vote. In District 3, Nancy Detert beat Cory Hutchinson with 63.1 percent of the vote. Detert has served in the Florida state legislature as both a senator and a representative. This will be her second term on the County Commission. In District 5, Ron Cutsinger beat Alice White with 61.2 percent of the vote. Cutsinger is a Republican and a supporter of Trump’s policies.
The city of Sarasota is governed by a Commission- Manager government. There are five commissioners total:two are elected “at large” by the whole city and the other three are elected from single-member districts. These positions are all nonpartisan. Each year, the commission chooses a mayor and vice mayor from within the group. During this election, Liz Alpert beat Terry Turner in District 1 securing 51.5 percent of the vote. Alpert is a family lawyer in Sarasota and this will be her second term as part of the commission.
The Board of County Commissioners held three races. In District 1, Michael A. Moran was reelected over Mark E. Pienkos. Moran, who is the current chair of the commission, received 55.9 percent of the vote. In District 3, Nancy Detert beat Cory Hutchinson with 63.1 percent of the vote. Detert has served in the Florida state legislature as both a senator and a representative. This will be her second term on the County Commission. In District 5, Ron Cutsinger beat Alice White with 61.2 percent of the vote. Cutsinger is a Republican and a supporter of Trump’s policies.