VENICE - It was a record-breaking turnout for Venice in its elections Tuesday.  

When all the votes were counted, 45.94% of the registered 19,607 eligible voters cast ballots.

Residents picked a relative unknown to become their new mayor. 

Ron Feinsod takes the reins from Mayor John Holic during a Nov. 19 ceremony that will include two new City Council members: Nick Pachota and Joe Neunder.

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office vote count had the mayor's race decided by 92 votes. Feinsod, who has been a resident for five years, defeated a nine-year member of the City Council along with a popular website leader in a three-way race.

Feinsod, founder of Indivisible Venice, took 3,589 votes (40%) over current City Council member Bob Daniels with 3,497 votes (39%), and Frankie Abbruzzino — who runs a popular news aggregation website — coming in third with 1,865 (21%) votes.

Feinsod faces a dilemma where he's likely to be in the minority when it comes to a split-vote on controversial topics.

"I do believe I can work with people from different sides of the issues... We should all be looking at the same goal of working toward what is best for Venice," Feinsod said. 

Daniels said the three-way race worked in Feinsod’s favor. The local GOP refused to back a candidate when two were involved, he said. 

“Frankly, Frankie’s being in the race meant me not getting the Republican Party endorsement,” Daniels said Tuesday. The ballot is nonpartisan. 

Daniels outspent his nearest opponent by about 30%, spending $32,810 in the campaign, compared to Feinsod’s $19,659.

Abbruzino spent $2,500 on his race, according to an election financial report.

Pachota returned to Venice after years away, but always thought he'd run for City Council — at least as far back as during his service on Venice’s Youth Advisory Board when he was in high school.

He'll replace Jeanette Gates in Seat 5. Term limits precluded her from running for reelection.

Pachota defeated Debbie Sanacore, a city code inspector, by 123 votes, 4,500 to 4,377.

During the campaign, Pachota emphasized his long ties to the community — his family also operates Sharky’s and Snook Haven; his experience in public safety as an EMT and paramedic; and his work ethic.

Neunder beat Tim Brady 56.17% to 43.83% to win Seat 6, which Bob Daniels had to vacate due to term limits.

“I’m so humbled to know my community even better than I knew it seven months ago,” he told supporter at Fins after the results were announced.

The election saw its share of negative advertising, with both sides accusing the other of using either “dark PAC” money or dirty politics to make their point.

The three new officials will be sworn in Tuesday, Nov. 19, after the results of the election are certified. The newly constituted Council will convene its first meeting at 9 a.m. that day.


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