|Founded||May 14, 1921|
|Largest city||North Port|
|• Total||725 sq mi (1,880 km2)|
|• Land||556 sq mi (1,440 km2)|
|• Water||169 sq mi (440 km2) 23.4%|
|• Density||767/sq mi (296/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
34223, 34229–34278, 34284–34289, 34292, 34293, 34295
|Congressional districts||16th, 17th|
Sarasota County is located in southwest Central Florida on the Gulf Coast. At the 2020 US census, the population was 434,006. Its county seat is Sarasota and its largest city is North Port. Sarasota County is part of the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, FL metropolitan statistical area.
Main article: History of Sarasota, Florida
The area that is now known as Sarasota County has been inhabited by humans for some 10,000 years. Evidence of human remains as well as a burned out log at the Warm Mineral Springs, in North Port, were discovered that date to the early Archaic period.
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.
An early map of the area from 1763 shows the word "Zarazote" across present day Sarasota.
Following exploration, the area was occupied by fishing camps, called ranchos. In 1842, the Armed Occupation Act was passed, which deeded land to settlers who were willing to cultivate land in Florida. The act brought settlers to Sarasota but also led to the Second Seminole War. During the war, the area was occupied by the U.S. army and Fort Armistead was built.
Sarasota County was created in 1921 from the southern part of Manatee County. After acquisition by the United States as a territory, the area now included in Sarasota county had been part of St. Johns County (1821), Alachua County (1824), Hillsborough County (1834), and Manatee County (1855) as new counties were created from older counties to accommodate population growth and settlement in new areas.
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.
In addition to local parks there are several preserve areas including:
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.
Like most of Southwest Florida, Sarasota County is considered a stronghold for the Republican Party and was one of the first parts of Florida to turn Republican. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win it was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, although Barack Obama lost it by just 211 votes in 2008. Republicans have historically dominated the county commission and other countywide elected positions. However, the city of Sarasota has an all-Democrat city commission, Democrat Michele Rayner represents a portion of the county in the Florida House of Representatives, and there are two countywide elected Democrats.
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.
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.
Three specialist law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in the county: the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Police Department, the New College/USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Police Department and the Seminole Gulf Railway (SGLR) Police Department. Each agency has jurisdiction in neighboring Manatee County as well; each agency's properties extend into that county.
All voter information is since March 31, 2022[update] and provided by Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office:
|No party affiliation||90,695||25.75%|
|Class 3 Senator||Marco Rubio||Republican|
|Class 1 Senator||Rick Scott||Republican|
|Florida's 16th Congressional District||Vern Buchanan||Republican|
|Florida's 17th Congressional District||Greg Steube||Republican|
The Board of County Commissioners include the following:
|District 1||Michael Moran|
|District 2||Christian Ziegler|
|District 3||Nancy Detert|
|District 4||Alan Maio|
|District 5||Ron Cutsinger|
The School Board members include the following:
|District 1||Bridget Ziegler|
|District 2||Karen Rose|
|District 3||Tom Edwards|
|District 4||Shirley Brown|
|District 5||Jane Goodwin|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 census, Sarasota County had a population of 447,057 with 189,228 households.
3.5% of that population was under the age of 5 years old, 14.0% was under 18 years old, and 37.4% was 65 years or older. 52.4% was female.
91.5% of the population was white, 4.7% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.8% was Asian, 0.1% was Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 1.6% was two or more races, and 9.6% was Hispanic or Latino.
The median household income was $64,644 with a per capita income of $44,402. 8.7% of population below the poverty threshold. The median value of owner-occupied housing-units between 2016-2020 was $269,300 and the median gross rent was $1,342.
There were 41,215 veterans living in the county. 12.2% of the population were Foreign born persons. 93.2% of the population that was 25 years or older were High school graduates and 36.4% of those 25 years or older had a Bachelor's degree or higher.
As of January 2018[update], the top private employers for Sarasota County are as follows:
As of October 2018[update], the top employees for Sarasota County, including public sector jobs, are as follows:
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. CoolToday Park opened on March 24, 2019.
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.
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.
Main article: Sarasota County Library System
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. 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. 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.
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.
Sarasota County is part of the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota DMA. Most of the television stations are located in Saint Petersburg or Tampa except:
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