Sarasota County, Florida

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Sarasota County, Florida
Sarasota FL County crths08.jpg
The Sarasota County courthouse in June 2011
Logo of Sarasota County, Florida
Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County
Location in the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location in the U.S.
Founded May 14, 1921
Seat Sarasota
Largest city North Port
 • Total 725 sq mi (1,878 km2)
 • Land 556 sq mi (1,440 km2)
 • Water 169 sq mi (438 km2), 23.4%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 412,569
 • Density 683/sq mi (264/km2)
Congressional districts 16th, 17th
Time zone Eastern: UTC−5/−4

Sarasota County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 379,448.[1] Its county seat is Sarasota,[2] and its largest city is North Port. A majority (over 60%) of Sarasota County's residents live in unincorporated areas outside its four municipalities.[3]

Sarasota County is included in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Downtown Sarasota, the county seat, from the John Ringling Causeway Bridge
Venice Avenue in Venice
Black-necked stilt in Myakka River State Park
Sunset at Siesta Beach

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."


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.[4]

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 represent a single district, but is elected countywide.[1]

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.

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.[6]

Law enforcement[edit]

Sarasota County vote[7]
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic Others
2016 53.79% 124,438 42.30% 97,870 3.91% 9,045
2012 53.14% 110,504 45.74% 95,119 1.12% 2,338
2008 49.47% 102,897 49.37% 102,686 1.16% 2,422
2004 53.51% 104,692 45.20% 88,442 1.29% 2,518
2000 51.63% 83,117 45.27% 72,869 3.10% 4,991
1996 46.46% 69,213 42.73% 63,665 10.81% 16,108
1992 42.76% 66,855 34.89% 54,552 22.35% 34,945
1988 66.40% 84,602 33.04% 42,099 0.56% 708
1984 74.15% 87,771 25.79% 30,525 0.06% 69
1980 68.57% 68,065 25.81% 25,621 5.62% 5,579
1976 61.78% 44,157 36.78% 26,293 1.44% 1,028
1972 79.95% 48,939 19.99% 12,235 0.06% 36
1968 63.73% 30,160 21.40% 10,127 14.88% 7,041
1964 61.13% 21,917 38.87% 13,937
1960 70.70% 19,995 29.30% 8,287
1956 73.40% 13,937 26.60% 5,052
1952 70.74% 9,538 29.26% 3,945
1948 49.95% 3,559 32.31% 2,302 17.74% 1,264
1944 37.99% 2,109 62.01% 3,443
1940 30.71% 1,672 69.29% 3,773
1936 30.38% 1,055 69.62% 2,418
1932 25.86% 667 74.14% 1,912
1928 56.46% 1,603 41.60% 1,181 1.94% 55
1924 40.48% 187 44.16% 204 15.36% 71

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 Interstate 75 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 Police Department.[11] Each agency has jurisdiction in neighboring Manatee County as well; each agency's properties extend into that county.

Party for Socialism and Liberation - Florida[edit]

The Party for Socialism and Liberation has its state headquarters in Sarasota, Florida.[12]

Voter Registration[edit]

All Voter Info is as of December, 20th 2017 and provided by Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office[13]

Party Statistics[edit]

  Republican (42.79%)
  Democratic (30.43%)
  NPA (26.35%)
  Minor Parties (0.45%)
Party Registered Voters Percentage
Republican 133,243 42.63%
Democratic 94,957 30.38%
No party affiliation 82,658 26.45%
Libertarian Party 804 0.26%
Independent Party of Florida 514 0.16%
Green Party 249 0.08%
Reform Party 35 0.01%
Constitution Party 34 0.01%
Party for Socialism and Liberation 15 0.00%
America's Party 11 0.00%
Ecology Party of Florida 7 0.00%
Total Voters 312,527 100.00%

Gender Statistics[edit]

Gender Voters Percent
Female 164,425 52.61%
Male 139,751 44.72%
Unknown 8,351 2.67%
Total 312,527 100%

Race Statistics[edit]

Race Voters Percent
White Non-Hispanic 275,579 88.18%
Hispanic 11,672 3.73%
Black 10,242 3.28%
Unknown 8,027 2.57%
Asian/Pac. Islander 3,295 1.05%
Other 1,528 0.49%
Multi-Racial 1,162 0.37%
Indian/Alaskan Native 977 0.31%
Total 312,527 100%

Age Statistics[edit]

Age Voters Percent
18-20 6,893 2.21%
21-29 27,885 8.92%
30-55 92,744 29.68%
56-64 53,090 16.99%
65+ 131,915 41.21%
Total 312,527 100%



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).[14]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 12,440
1940 16,106 29.5%
1950 28,827 79.0%
1960 76,895 166.7%
1970 120,413 56.6%
1980 202,251 68.0%
1990 277,776 37.3%
2000 325,957 17.3%
2010 379,448 16.4%
Est. 2016 412,569 [15] 8.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
1790-1960[17] 1900-1990[18]
1990-2000[19] 2010-2015[1]
Some areas of Sarasota County, such as Casey Key near Nokomis, are very wealthy.

As of the census[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]


Top private employers[edit]

The top private employers for Sarasota County are as follows:[23]
1. Publix (2,677)
2. PGT Innovations (1,924)
3. Sun Hydraulics (683)
4. Tervis Tumbler (679)
5. Shared Services Center Sarasota (405)
6. FCCI Insurance (402)
7. Expert Global Solutions (330)
8. ASO Bandages (260)
9. Dow Chemical Company (250)
10. (250)

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, FL.[24]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

Higher education[edit]

Museums and Libraries[edit]

Sarasota County Public Libraries
Country United States of America
Type Public Library
Established 1907
Location Sarasota
Branch of All
Branches 8
Size 900,975
Other information
Budget 9,667,680 (2012)

Sarasota County Public Library Branches:

  • Elsie Quirk Public Library
  • Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library
  • Fruitville Public Library
  • Gulf Gate Public Library
  • North Port Public Library
  • North Sarasota Public Library
  • The Osprey Public Library at the Historic Spanish Point
  • Selby Public Library
  • 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 nine 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.[26] 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.[27] 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 six different county parks and recreation centers.[28]

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.[29]

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).


  • WSLR-LP - (96.5 community radio).
  • WSRQ - (98.9 FM 106.9 FM 1220 AM Talk Radio).




Census-designated places[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 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ 2013 county population figures from State & County QuickFacts: Sarasota County, Florida minus the population of incorporated municipalities.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Sarasota and Manatee wallets open for president's campaign". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-11-27. 
  6. ^ "Fire Department". Sarasota County government. Retrieved 2014-11-27. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Jurisdiction of the Florida Highway Patrol
  9. ^ "Airport Police". Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Retrieved 2014-11-27. 
  10. ^ "Campus Police". New College of Florida. Retrieved 2014-11-27. 
  12. ^ "Committee Tracking system - Florida Division of Elections - Department of State". Retrieved 2017-03-21. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  21. ^ Census Bureau Home Page
  22. ^ Census Bureau
  23. ^ EDC Sarasota
  24. ^ Murdock, Zack (January 17, 2017). "Atlanta Braves pick Sarasota County for spring training". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Sarasota County Library System, Services and Policies.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Florida Library History Project, "Sarasota County Library System" (1990). Digital Collection - Florida Studies Center Publications. Paper 96
  30. ^ - About Us: Fact Sheet - About Us: Fact Sheet -
  31. ^ "About Scene". Scene Magazine. Retrieved April 17, 2016. 
  32. ^ Observer Media Group. "About Us". Retrieved December 18, 2017.