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Vanessa Baugh

SW Florida

Vanessa Baugh files for reelection in Manatee County

She will face former County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.

Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh has filed for reelection. And she’s now running against the county administrator that was in place most of her time in office.

“Manatee County is finally at a point where we are moving forward and getting things accomplished,” said Baugh, a Lakewood Ranch Republican.

“We’re making investments in public safety, critical infrastructure improvements, protecting our natural resources and waterways and being fiscally conservative with taxpayer dollars.”

The entrepreneur, who opened Vanessa Fine Jewelry in 1999, was first elected to the County Commission in 2012. She chaired the board in 2016, and has also chaired the Manatee County Port Authority since 2017.

During her time in office, she has focused on transportation and infrastructure, serving on the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning organization and chairing it in 2018. She also has served on the Tourism Development Council.

She considered a run for state House in 2018 but ultimately chose to stay on the commission, where she’s now seeking a third term.

“We still have lots to accomplish to keep Manatee County moving in the right direction,” Baugh said. “We need to focus on lowering taxes and fees on families and small businesses and keep big government out of the way of free enterprise.

“I am a proven conservative who has and will continue to work hard every day to ensure Manatee County continues to be a wonderful place to live.”

Another major change at Manatee County since Baugh arrived was the departure of long-time County Administrator Ed Hunzeker. He retired earlier this year after holding the job for 12 years.

But last week, Hunzeker filed for Baugh’s seat, just before the incumbent filed herself.

“I know Manatee County inside and out,” he said. “I have the experience needed to keep our County on the right track.”

Both Republican candidates live in Lakewood Ranch and will be running in District 5.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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