Sarasota County Courthouse in June 2011
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
|Founded||May 14, 1921|
|Largest city||North Port|
|o Total||725 sq mi (1,880 km2)|
|o Land||556 sq mi (1,440 km2)|
|o Water||169 sq mi (440 km2) 23.4%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||767/sq mi (296/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
34223, 34229-34278, 34284-34289, 34292, 34293, 34295
|Congressional districts||16th, 17th|
Sarasota County is located in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast. As of the 2010 US Census, the population was 379,448. Its county seat is Sarasota (with an estimated 2018 population of 57,738) 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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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 as of December 18, 2019and provided by Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office:
|No party affiliation||82,591||25.79%|
|Independent Party of Florida||2,347||0.73%|
|Party for Socialism and Liberation||21||0.01%|
|Ecology Party of Florida||13||0.00%|
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||Charles Hines|
|District 1||Bridget Ziegler|
|District 2||Karen Rose|
|District 3||Tom Edwards|
|District 4||Shirley Brown|
|District 5||Jane Goodwin|
As of the census 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.
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.
As of January 2018, the top private employers for Sarasota County 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.
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.