Ruta Maria Jouniari is running for Sarasota County Commissioner.

SARASOTA — A longtime Republican official won his first elected seat Tuesday night, joining the party’s firm grip on the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners.

Newcomer, of sorts, Christian Ziegler defeated his Democratic opponent Ruta Maria Jouniari.

In the District 1 seat contest, Ziegler gained 112,206 votes or 55.54 percent against Jouniari’s 89,835 votes or 44.46 percent of the total votes cast.

Ziegler and Jouniari were vying for the open District 1 seat, which is in the North Sarasota area, after current Commissioner Paul Caragiulo’s decision last December to forgo another term.

Ziegler had received Caragiulo’s endorsement for the seat last December when the incumbent announced that he would not seek another term.

Attempts to reach Ziegler were unsuccessful.

In an ironic twist, the campaigns run by all four candidates in this year’s election will be the last countywide races for the County Commission.

By an overwhelming majority Tuesday, county voters approved a change to the Sarasota County Charter for so-called single-member districts, meaning a candidate for the commission will be elected only by the voters in his or her specific district.

Ziegler, husband of Sarasota County Schools Board Chair Bridgette Ziegler, will be sworn in for his first term later this month.


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