Sarasota DEC elects new slate of officers

12/08/08 Virginia Hoffman
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Sarasota County DEC members gathered Friday night to elect new officers. This occurs every four years during the presidential election cycle. The current chair was re-elected but not without some controversy.

In the only contested race, current Vice Chair Jim Keeney defeated his challenger by two votes.

When current chair Rita Ferrandino presented her slate of officers for re-election to the DEC, only one challenger step forward to run for vice chair. Earlier in the week mailers went out to precinct captains from Ferrandino promoting her team on the party letterhead. She later apologized after members voiced complaints.

State Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, nominated Ferrandino for re-election. He began by defending her leadership and went on to explain that candidates win elections not DECs. Fitzgerald won his re-election by a narrow margin against Republican Laura Benson.

But the results for other local Democratic candidates were not so good. Only two incumbents and two candidates were elected out of the 23 running.

Bob Oines served as a precinct captain in south Sarasota County, where local Democratic candidates did do well. He explained how his group worked hard to train precinct captains and attributed much of the success to the North Port Democratic Club. Oines claimed he was not an insider of the DEC. He said having only one challenger to the slate indicated either satisfaction with the group in charge or was a result of how the election was set up. He shared his ideas on how the DEC could improve their get out the vote effort.

"I think we need to recruit a more active membership made up of active role models in their precincts." Oines said.

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