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defending the status quo. He praised the board for not having raised taxes in the past 12 years and said the budget was in good shape over- all. As for the administrator position, Maio said the county was "spoiled" by Jim Ley, who spent 14 years in that post before being forced to resign in 2011 amid a cloud of scandal over staff's handling of county contracts. A vocal supporter of ousted Administrator Randy Reid, Ramirez praised current Administrator Tom Harmer, who replaced Reid after he was fired last fall. She said that while Harmer has not yet reached out to com- munity groups as he needs to, she is confident he will. Ramirez also directly addressed her expe- rience as the victim in former Republican Party of Sarasota County chairman Bob Waechter's scheme to impersonate her and donate to Democratic candidates such as Keith Fitzgerald, who was running for the U.S. House. Why was she targeted by the local Republican "machine"? "They knew they couldn't convince me to be like a bob- blehead," Ramirez said. Her campaign play is simple. She's a "fiscal conservative" who likes to "think outside the box" and believes in transparency. "I am the voice of the peo- ple," she told the audience. Caragiulo presented himself as a prob- lem-solver, someone interested in looking at the big picture rather than getting lost in policy minutiae. When club member Helen Wolff asked the candidates for their thoughts on the county's decision to rewrite portions of its Sarasota 2050 land-use plan, Caragiulo Lourdes Ramirez addresses the Village Walk Republican Club audience. Photo by Cooper Levey-Baker Sarasota News Leader February 28, 2014 Page 23

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