The Sarasota Journal

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Incumbents qualify but face challengers

SARASOTA COUNTY –– Commissioners Nancy Detert and Mike Moran easily qualified by noon Friday to seek a second term on the county commission.

But unlike years past, when an incumbent county commissioner faced no opposition, Detert and Moran both face opponents seeking to derail their goal of another term in office.

The reason is easily discernable –– the highly controversial decision to change their district boundaries.

For Moran, the change moved the Democrat-leaning Newtown community into District 2, giving his District 1 area a Republican tilt. Detert, a Venice resident who could have faced a challenge from a popular North Port city commissioner, lost most of the city with the change moving it to District 5.

Of the pair, Moran faces the more difficult road to re-election facing an intra-party challenger as well as a Democratic opponent.

Mike Hutchinson, a retired software engineer and project manager who has been active in the local Republican party for years qualified to face off against Moran in the August Republican primary. He opposes urban sprawl in East County and cites Moran’s votes on development issues as his reason for running.

The winner of that primary will face Mark Pienkos, a long-time Democrat who is a retired educator and superintendent from Wisconsin. He believes current commissioners no longer listen to residents.

Detert has no opponent from the Republican Party but will face Democrat Cory Hutchison who qualified for the November general election.

Cory Hutchinson, the chairman of the North Port Charter Review Board, is a career advisor at Laurel Nokomis School, and lost to Vanessa Carusone for a seat on the North Port City Commission in 2016.

Because voters approved a change to the county charter in 2018 implementing single-member districts, the candidates will not have to run county-wide but only within their particular district. So only voters living within Districts 1, 3 and 5 will vote on commissioners this year.

The primary election will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 18, followed by the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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Warren Richardson
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