Sarasota County, Florida

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Sarasota County
Sarasota County Courthouse in June 2011
Official seal of Sarasota County
Official logo of Sarasota County
Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 27°11′N 82°22′W / 27.19°N 82.37°W / 27.19; -82.37
Country United States
State Florida
FoundedMay 14, 1921
Largest cityNorth Port
 • Total725 sq mi (1,880 km2)
 • Land556 sq mi (1,440 km2)
 • Water169 sq mi (440 km2)  23.4%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density767/sq mi (296/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
34223, 34229–34278, 34284–34289, 34292, 34293, 34295
Area code941
Congressional districts16th, 17th

Sarasota County is located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast. As of the 2010 US Census, the population was 379,448.[1] Its county seat is Sarasota (with an estimated 2018 population of 57,738)[2] and its largest city is North Port with an estimated 2018 population of 68,628. Sarasota County is part of the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Downtown Sarasota, the county seat, from the John Ringling Causeway

Sarasota County was created in 1921. After acquisition by the United States as a territory and once Florida obtained state status, the area now included in the county had been governed by Hillsborough County, then Manatee County as the state was divided into smaller and smaller governmental organizations. Manatee County was carved up to allow the creation of three more counties as well.

Although the name was associated with the area from the beginning of European contacts the origin of the name, Sarasota, is unknown. Some believe a fanciful story created for a popular early twentieth-century pageant held in Sarasota, that it was named after the daughter of famous explorer Hernando de Soto's daughter Sara.

According to the Florida League of Cities, the name first appeared in print as "Zarazote" on a 1763 land grant map.

Joseph Daniel Anderson was one of the pioneers of the Sarasota area. He established his homestead in the Forked Creek area in 1886 and became an early leader in what now is southern Sarasota County (having been Manatee County from 1855 until 1921).

The following is a transcript from a Sarasota County historical marker that was erected in a park dedicated to Anderson on Manasota Key.

"After the Civil War, many Georgians moved their families to Southern Florida. Joseph Daniel "Jody" Anderson, born in Georgia in 1867, was a child when his father moved to the Tampa/Sara Sota area. In 1884, Joseph became the head of the Anderson family. Two years later, he moved his family to Southern Manatee County. He homesteaded the land in the Mystic River (Forked Creek) Valley. In 1890 he married Helen Alice Johnson of Sarasota. They had eleven children. Eight survived.
With only hand tools, Anderson converted the Florida wilderness into an agricultural industry. This fertile land produced vegetables, sugar cane and citrus. In the vast Myakka/Pinedale area, he raised his cattle and swine. He and brother Moses "Lee" prospered in ranching until the Range Law Act curtailed the right to use this land for grazing.
Sleds (later wagons) were used to move the farm produce, fruit and cattle to Lemon Bay where they were transferred to draft boats and transported to ships at Boca Grande. Some of the wagons were rafted across the bay to Manasota Beach where the produce was ferried to Cuban smacks and later to American schooners.
Anderson pioneered commercial fishing in North Lemon Bay which teemed with schools of mullet and other fish. The Andersons fished with nets made of cotton and flax twine over which they poured a heavy lime solution to prevent rot. Their base of operation included land storage facilities on the shore and on the beach (Manasota) to salt, dry and pack the fish in barrels. Upon the arrival of run boats with ice from Tampa, the Andersons could ship fresh fish and produce.
Joseph Daniel "Jody" Anderson was a quiet family man who never sought publicity. However, before Sarasota County was organized, he served as deputy sheriff and game warden in the Pinedale/Manasota area. The Anderson family built the area's first school (Pinedale) of which Jody was trustee. He also organized the first church in the area. Anderson actively supported the creation of Sarasota County from Manatee County and in 1922, became the first elected county commissioner from District 4. After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Ethel Morgan with whom he raised four more children. Joseph Daniel Anderson died in 1939."


Black-necked stilt in Myakka River State Park

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 725 square miles (1,880 km2), of which 556 square miles (1,440 km2) is land and 169 square miles (440 km2) (23.4%) is water.[3]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Parks and preserves[edit]

In addition to local parks there are several preserve areas including:

Government and politics[edit]

Sarasota County is one of only 20 Florida counties with its own charter, adopted in 1971. Sarasota County is governed by a five-member county commission. Each commissioner serves a four-year term and resides in and represents a single district.[4]

The county's politics are dominated by the Republican Party; Franklin D. Roosevelt was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the county (in 1944)[5] and Republicans have historically dominated the county commission and other countywide elected positions. The city of Sarasota has an all-Democrat city commission, Democrats Wengay Newton and Margaret Good represent portions of the county in the Florida House of Representatives, and there are two countywide elected Democrats.

Presidential elections results
Sarasota County vote[6]
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic Others
2020 54.7% 148,370 44.3% 120,110 1.0% 2,689
2016 53.8% 124,438 42.3% 97,870 3.9% 9,045
2012 53.1% 110,504 45.7% 95,119 1.1% 2,338
2008 49.5% 102,897 49.4% 102,686 1.2% 2,422
2004 53.5% 104,692 45.2% 88,442 1.3% 2,518
2000 51.6% 83,117 45.3% 72,869 3.1% 4,991
1996 46.7% 69,213 42.7% 63,665 10.8% 16,108
1992 42.8% 66,855 34.9% 54,552 22.4% 34,945
1988 66.4% 84,602 33.0% 42,099 0.6% 708
1984 74.2% 87,771 25.8% 30,525 0.1% 69
1980 68.6% 68,065 25.8% 25,621 5.6% 5,579
1976 61.8% 44,157 36.8% 26,293 1.4% 1,028
1972 79.9% 48,939 20.0% 12,235 0.1% 36
1968 63.7% 30,160 21.4% 10,127 14.9% 7,041
1964 61.1% 21,917 38.9% 13,937
1960 70.7% 19,995 29.3% 8,287
1956 73.4% 13,937 26.6% 5,052
1952 70.7% 9,538 29.3% 3,945
1948 49.9% 3,559 32.3% 2,302 17.7% 1,264
1944 38.0% 2,109 62.0% 3,443
1940 30.7% 1,672 69.3% 3,773
1936 30.4% 1,055 69.6% 2,418
1932 25.9% 667 74.1% 1,912
1928 56.5% 1,603 41.6% 1,181 1.9% 55
1924 40.5% 187 44.2% 204 15.4% 71

Public safety[edit]


The Sarasota County Fire Department (SCFD) provides fire services to the City of Sarasota and all unincorporated areas of the county with the exception of areas covered by the Nokomis and Englewood fire districts. Additionally, SCFD provides EMS service to the City of Sarasota, all unincorporated areas of the county (including areas covered by the Nokomis and Englewood fire districts) plus the city of Venice.[7]

Law enforcement[edit]

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (SSO) is the county's primary law enforcement agency. It is responsible for patrolling the unincorporated areas of the county along with operating the county's jail and providing courtroom security. SSO also operates the county's primary 911 center. The cities of Sarasota, North Port, and Venice along with the Town of Longboat Key each have their own police departments. The Florida Highway Patrol is responsible for patrolling FDOT maintained roads in the county (Florida State Highway System) and investigating motor vehicle accidents that occur in unincorporated areas.[8]

Three specialist law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in the county: the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Police Department,[9] the New College/USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Police Department[10] and the Seminole Gulf Railway (SGLR) Police Department.[11] Each agency has jurisdiction in neighboring Manatee County as well; each agency's properties extend into that county.

Voter registration[edit]

All voter information is as of January 29, 2021 and provided by Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office:[12]

Party statistics[edit]

Party Registered Voters Percentage
Republican 146,268 42.47%
Democratic 106,400 30.89%
No party affiliation 86,012 24.97%
Independent Party of Florida 4,390 1.27%
Libertarian Party 976 0.28%
Green Party 234 0.07%
Constitution Party 56 0.01%
Reform Party 26 0.02%
Party for Socialism and Liberation 38 0.01%
Reform Party of Florida 24 0.01%
Ecology Party of Florida 17 0.00%
Total Voters 344,415 100.00%

Government officials[edit]

United States Senate[edit]

Office Senator Party
Class 3 Senator Marco Rubio Republican
Class 1 Senator Rick Scott Republican

United States House of Representatives[edit]

District Representative Party
Florida's 16th Congressional District Vern Buchanan Republican

Florida State Senate[edit]

District Senator Party
23 Joe Gruters Republican

Florida House of Representatives[edit]

District Representative Party
70 Michele Rayner Democratic
71 Will Robinson Republican
72 Fiona McFarland Republican
73 Tommy Gregory Republican
74 James Buchanan Republican

Sarasota County Commission[edit]

The Board of County Commissioners include the following:[13]

Position Incumbent
District 1 Michael Moran
District 2 Christian Ziegler
District 3 Nancy Detert
District 4 Alan Maio
District 5 Ron Cutsinger

Sarasota County School Board[edit]

The School Board members include the following:[14]

Position Incumbent
District 1 Bridget Ziegler
District 2 Karen Rose
District 3 Tom Edwards
District 4 Shirley Brown
District 5 Jane Goodwin



Major highways and state roads[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

  • Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) provides public transportation for Sarasota County, Florida. SCAT is operated by Sarasota County. It maintains 19 fixed-line bus routes plus a dial-a-ride paratransit service (SCAT Plus).[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)433,742[16]14.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
1790-1960[18] 1900-1990[19]
1990-2000[20] 2010-2019[1]
Some areas of Sarasota County, such as Casey Key near Nokomis, are very wealthy.

As of the census[21] of 2000, there were 325,957 people, 149,937 households, and 94,460 families residing in the county. The population density was 570 people per square mile (220/km2). There were 182,467 housing units at an average density of 319 per square mile (123/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.65% White, 4.18% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.77% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. 4.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 89.7% spoke only English at home; 4.4% spoke Spanish, 1.3% German, and 1.0% French at home.

Census Estimates for 2005 show the county population as being 87.5% non-Hispanic whites, 6.3% Latinos, 4.5% African-American and 1.1% Asian.[22]

In 2000, there were 149,957 households, out of which 18.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.70% were married couples living together, 7.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.00% were non-families. 30.40% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.61.

In the county, the age distribution was as follows: 16.20% under the age of 18, 5.00% from 18 to 24, 21.70% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 31.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 90.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,957, and the median income for a family was $50,111. About 5.10% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.70% of those under age 18 and 4.50% of those age 65 or over.

The per capita income for the county was $28,326. Females had a median income of $25,721 versus $32,114 for males.

  • Population in Sarasota County counted in 2016 had reached 412,569 people.[23]


Top private employers[edit]

As of January 2018, the top private employers for Sarasota County are as follows:[24]

  1. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (4,563)
  2. PGT Innovations (2,000)
  3. Publix (1,733)
  4. Venice Regional Medical Center (812)
  5. Sun Hydraulics (632)
  6. Tervis Tumbler (570)
  7. Shared Services Center Sarasota (455)
  8. FCCI Insurance (426)
  9. Doctors Hospital (415)
  10. Jackson Hewitt, Inc. (337)

Top public and private employers[edit]

As of October 2018, the top employees for Sarasota County, including public sector jobs, are as follows:[25]

  1. School Board of Sarasota County (4,563)
  2. Sarasota Memorial Hospital (4,244)
  3. Sarasota County Government (3,533)
  4. Publix Supermarkets (2,793)
  5. PGT Industries (2,079)

Sports and recreation[edit]

Sarasota County is home to Ed Smith Stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles currently have spring training. The Orioles also have minor league facilities at Twin Lakes Park. In January 2017, the Braves announced a formal agreement to move their Spring Training home to North Port.[26] CoolToday Park opened on March 24, 2019.[27][28]

Sarasota County is also home to Nathan Benderson Park. The facility has played host to the 2017 World Rowing Championships and subsequent World Rowing events in 2018 and 2019. It has also been the host of the 2016 Olympic Time Trials - Rowing and will host the delayed 2020 Olympic rowing time trials. NBP has also been the site of multiple NCAA national rowing championship regattas, the USRowing Youth National Championships, and other rowing regattas and dragon boat festivals since 2011. The park will host the 2021 U.S. Dragon Boat Federation National Championships and the 2022 International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships, after holding the 2014 International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission world regatta.[29][30]

Nathan Benderson Park is also the site of Olympic qualifying events in triathlon and paratriathlon, with several ITU Triathlon World Cup and Americas Triathlon Cup events over the years. Numerous community running and walking events, music and food festivals and other community events are held in the park, including the annual NBP Fireworks On The Lake, held every July 3, and NBP Trick Or Treat On The Lake, held the last week of October.[citation needed]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

Higher education[edit]

Museums and libraries[edit]

Library branches:[31]

  • Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library
  • Elsie Quirk Public Library
  • Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library
  • Fruitville Public Library
  • Gulf Gate Public Library
  • North Port Public Library
  • The Osprey Public Library at the Historic Spanish Point
  • Selby Public Library
  • Shannon Staub Library
  • William H. Jervey, Jr. Venice Public Library

Sarasota County residents may obtain library cards for free and valid library cards may be used to check out materials at all ten Sarasota County libraries. Manatee and Charlotte County residents, as well as library users from any of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium libraries may register as reciprocal borrowers and check out materials in Sarasota County. Non-resident cards are available for purchase and offer the same privileges as resident cards.

The library system provides a variety of services which include adult, teen and children's materials. Computers for public use are available at all nine Sarasota County Libraries and free wireless access in the libraries is provided by the Sarasota County Government. The library system has licensing to the Cloud Library, OverDrive, Inc. and Freegal Music. Ask a Librarian, the on-line Florida librarian reference system is available through the Sarasota County Public Library System. Sarasota County residents have access to the Pinellas Talking Book Library as well as a Books-by-Mail service.[32] The Selby Public Library has been a selective depository in the Federal Depository Library Program and receives almost 50% of the government publications distributed through the program.[32] Additionally, the Sarasota County Library System is an organization member of the Florida Library Association.

The Little Free Library program was introduced to Sarasota County in 2014 as the result of a collaborative effort between the Libraries and Historical Resources department, the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department and the UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension and Sustainability department. The Sarasota County Little Free Libraries have been placed at thirteen different county parks and recreation centers.[33]

Library History

The first library, which was established in 1907 by the Sarasota Town Improvement Society. County libraries have been established in response to community demands and needs.

The first libraries were autonomous with the Head Librarians reporting directly to the County Administrator. Sarasota Public Library was managed by Betty Service, the Englewood library by Harriet Ives, and Venice by Jean McGuire. Joan Hopkins directed and coordinated library services for the rapidly growing population. She directed the establishment of Gulf Gate Public Library, North Port Public Library, Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library and the new downtown Sarasota library, and laid the groundwork for building future libraries in the county.[34]

Local media[edit]



Sarasota County is part of the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota DMA. Most of the television stations are located in Saint Petersburg or Tampa except:

  • WWSB - a local ABC affiliate based in Sarasota.
  • WSNN-LD - local twenty-four-hour news station based in Sarasota.
  • Various government and local access channels. Access 19 (Local Government channel), Education Channel (School Board) and BLAB TV (local programming).





Census-designated places/Unincorporated Communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  4. ^ "Sarasota County Charter" (PDF). July 2012. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 28, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  5. ^ "Sarasota and Manatee wallets open for president's campaign". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 14, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Fire Department". Sarasota County government. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "Jurisdiction of the Florida Highway Patrol" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  9. ^ "Airport Police". Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  10. ^ "Campus Police". New College of Florida. Archived from the original on November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  11. ^ "41426 - Decision". Surface Transportation Board. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  12. ^ "Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections". Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections. SOE Software Corporation. January 29, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  13. ^ "Sarasota County Commission (BCC)". Sarasota County. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  14. ^ "School Board / How to Contact Board Members". Sarasota County Schools. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  18. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  19. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  20. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  21. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  22. ^ "Census Bureau Home Page". Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  23. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Community Facts". Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  24. ^ "Top Employers". EDC Sarasota. January 2018. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  25. ^ "Fiscal Year 2019 Adopted Budget". Sarasota County Government. October 1, 2018. p. 40. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  26. ^ Murdock, Zack (January 17, 2017). "Atlanta Braves pick Sarasota County for spring training". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  27. ^ "Atlanta Braves Extend Spring Training Agreement with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex through April, 2019" (Press release). Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta Braves Baseball Club. January 31, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Tucker, Tim (March 24, 2019). "Braves' Gausman takes 'another step' toward 'being ready'". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  29. ^ "From pasture to sandpit to a world-class venue: Nathan Benderson Park history". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 16, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  30. ^ Sullivan, Robert (October 1, 2016). "Nathan Benderson Park: A Classic Reclamation Project". National Recreation and Park Association. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  31. ^ "Locations and Hours". Sarasota County. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  32. ^ a b "Services and Policies". Sarasota County Government. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  33. ^ "Little Free Libraries". Sarasota County Government. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  34. ^ "Sarasota County Library System". Florida Studies Center Publications. University of South Florida Tampa Library. January 1990. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  35. ^ " - About Us: Fact Sheet - About Us: Fact Sheet -". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  36. ^ "About Scene". Scene Magazine. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  37. ^ Observer Media Group. "About Us". Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.