By Phil Colpas
Longtime Siesta Key resident and activist Lourdes Ramirez announced on May 5 her candidacy for the District 2 seat of the Sarasota County Commission. District 2 comprises parts of Siesta Key, the city of Sarasota, Longboat Key, and the Arlington Park neighborhood.
“Sarasota County needs a leader who will represent the citizens and neighborhoods of Sarasota County,” Ramirez said. “As a county commissioner, I will represent the entire county, making sure citizens’ concerns about traffic, overdevelopment and taxes are heard.”
Ramirez is a former board member and president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations and the Siesta Key Association. She is also active in the Republican Party as a member of the Republican Executive Committee, and is the current president of the Republican Women’s Club of Sarasota.
Ramirez said she plans to focus her campaign on “putting Sarasota County first.” She is concerned with the county’s failure to balance the needs of its citizens with the need for responsibly planned growth, and believes that big developers have an undue influence on the county commission.
“The big developers have been able to convince our county commissioners to approve developments that are not compatible with existing neighborhoods,” Ramirez said. “And I have witnessed costs of new development being shifted from the developer to the existing taxpayers.”
Ramirez is currently suing Sarasota County for violating the local growth plan, claiming the county’s approval of mega-hotels on a barrier island will increase emergency evacuation times and impede emergency vehicles trying to get on and off Siesta Key.
“Challenging the county for the violation of our growth laws when they approved the mega-hotels is not enough for me,” Ramirez said. “I want to be your next county commissioner!”
Ramirez’s goal was to get on the ballot by using the petition process, thus avoiding the $5,500 qualifying fee. But to do this she needed 681 signatures from Sarasota County registered voters in one week.
“According to the Supervisor of Elections office, we reached our goal of 681 signed petitions from registered voters in Sarasota County,” Ramirez said. “As of Friday night, I was unsure if we would make it by Monday morning (May 16). But in the end, we received more than needed.
“This achievement saves our campaign over $5,500. We can now use those funds for mailers, signs and other campaign materials. Friends, neighbors, supporters and volunteers worked hard to achieve our goal in a little over a week. I can’t thank them enough for the hard work. Thanks to everyone who submitted petitions. Your efforts will make a difference in this upcoming election.
“For too long, local politicians have put special interests, such as big developers, over Sarasota County residents. I’ve dedicated two decades volunteering to protect neighborhoods from incompatible development. It’s about time someone puts Sarasota County first.”
Ramirez has a master’s degree in business administration from Iona College. She and her husband, Eric, have lived on Siesta Key for 23 years.
The primary election is Aug. 23. The District 2 incumbent is Republican Christian Ziegler. Also competing for the District 2 seat from the Democrat side are former Sarasota mayor Fredd Atkins, Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody, and activist Mike Cosentino.
This will be Ramirez’s third attempt at winning a county commission seat. She lost in the Republican primary to Alan Maio in both 2014 and 2018. Maio, the commission’s chairman who represents District 4, can no longer run again because of term limits.
For more information, visit Ramirez’s website at LourdesRamirez.net.