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Ruta Jouniari becomes second Democrat to join HD 72 contest

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Sarasota businesswoman, philanthropist, and community activist Rita Jouniari announced her candidacy for the special election in the House District 72 seat, becoming the second Democrat to join the race.

A Boston native, the 50-year-old Journiari has worked for much of her career in health care, beginning with Aetna U.S. Healthcare.

She founded the International Staffing Group, back in January of 2004. It’s a recruiting agency that places aviation personnel globally.

In 2016, she founded Universal Crescent Clinic, a free Sarasota healthcare clinic staffed by volunteers that provides care for those without insurance in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, and Charlotte counties.

Jouniari joins Margaret Good in the Democratic primary.

House District 72 was won handily last November by Republican Alex Miller, who abruptly announced a month ago that she was resigning from her seat, citing family and business reasons.

Realtor James Buchanan, the son of Congressman Vern Buchanan, has announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the seat. Republican Alexandra Coe and Libertarian Alison Foxall has also entered the contest.

The Democratic primary takes place on December 5, with the general election scheduled for February 13, 2018.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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