By Phil Colpas
Longtime Siesta Key resident Mark Smith has declared his candidacy for the Sarasota County Commission’s District 2 seat, which represents the northern half of Siesta Key.
He will face fellow Republican Lourdes Ramirez in an Aug. 23 primary.
Out of the race is Republican incumbent Christian Ziegler, who is not seeking re-election.
Smith has been an architect for 39 years and is currently president of Smith Architects, P.A., located in Siesta Key Village.
“With Christian not running, I decided to run,” Smith said. “I’m a Florida-registered architect who has owned and operated my business and lived on Siesta Key for 28 years. My professional experience of design, land use, construction and construction costs, permitting, building and zoning codes, etc., makes me uniquely qualified to be a county commissioner. It is my expertise that will be of great value to the BCC.”
Smith moved to Sarasota as a child when his family relocated from Detroit in 1963. He graduated from Riverview High School in 1973, and received both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Smith and his family moved back to Sarasota in 1990. He and his wife Esther have four grown children: Liz, 35; Jackie, 32; John, 31; and Ashley, 29.
“My nearly three decades of living and working on Siesta Key, volunteering on the Siesta Key Village Association, Siesta Key Association, and Siesta Key Chamber Board of Directors over the last 22 years, demonstrates to the Siesta Key voters my commitment to and love for Siesta Key,” Smith said. “We need strong, effective leadership on the Board of County Commissioners that represent the will and desire of Siesta Key to maintain and protect its character and beauty.”
Smith has long been active in his professional association and in his community. He served as president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects in 2007, and received the 2009 AIA Florida Silver Medal in recognition of his years of leadership and service deemed to have been a direct benefit to the profession and the community.
He was president of the Siesta Key Village Association from 2004 to 2009, leading the organization through the design and construction of the Siesta Key Village Beautification Project. Smith is a past board member of the Siesta Key Association. He currently serves on the Siesta Key Presidents Council, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Advisory Board, and as chair-elect of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He also served as past president of the Board of Directors of All Faiths Food Bank, and as a past board member of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.
“My professional background and personal history of volunteering in the community make me the right candidate for commissioner,” Smith said. “I have a history of working with everyone on issues and finding solutions, not just complaining about problems.” Smith previously ran an unsuccessful 2010 campaign against then-incumbent Nora Patterson in the Republican primary for County Commission District 4.
Also competing for the Sarasota County Commission District 2 seat from the Democrat side are former Sarasota mayor Fredd Atkins, Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody, and Siesta Key activist Mike Cosentino.
With Smith joining Cosentino and Ramirez, Siesta Key now has three of its residents in the District 2 race.
Primary winners face off in the Nov. 8 general election.