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Date of Issue: October 28, 2009

Mayoral race to be decided

While barbs and jabs are going off like firecrackers in Anna Maria’s city commission race, the two men vying for Bradenton Beach’s mayoral post are quietly courting voters.

Their overall messages to voters are simple and similar: Like how the city is operating? Vote for Mayor Michael Pierce for re-election on Nov. 3 at Tingley Memorial Library. Want a new direction? Vote for challenger William “Bill” Shearon on Nov. 3 at Tingley Memorial Library.

“Mike’s platform is the way things are going and mine is a new direction,” Shearon said.

“I don’t want any negativity,” Pierce said. “I’m saying I’ll do the best that I can and I’ll continue with all my projects — and I have many of them.”

The two shared those messages with people Oct. 19 during The Islander’s Popcorn and Politics forum outside the newspaper office in Holmes Beach.

“I’m here working the crowd,” said Shearon, who is running on a six-point platform that includes eliminating deficit spending, updating information systems and business procedures, reviewing line-item budgets, eliminating no-bid contracts and listening to citizens and volunteers.

“I’m mingling. And having a good time,” Pierce said at the forum. He has said he is proud of capital projects in recent years — the rebuilt pier, new sidewalks and new solar lights in the business district — and that the city did right by dipping into reserves to avoid a millage rate increase for this year’s budget.

About 125 Anna Maria residents cast mock ballots at the Popcorn and Politics event, as did several dozen residents from Holmes Beach.

But just 11 ballots were cast in the Bradenton Beach mayoral race — eight for Shearon and three for Pierce.

Bradenton Beach resident Ken Lohn, who has filed a lawsuit against the city and has been at odds with the current and past administrations, attended the forum.

“I’m voting for Truman,” he joked, before stating his support for Shearon.

Bradenton Beach resident Carl Parks attended. After marking his secret mock ballot, he said, “I just came to see what the different candidates have to say.”

“It’s the place to be,” said Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Janie Robertson, who will be re-elected to the commission in November without opposition.

Gay Breuhler, who also will be elected to the commission without opposition next week, attended.

Bradenton Beach resident Jo Ann Meilner, a member of the city’s planning and zoning board, also attended, seeking to hear from candidates in all three Island cities.

“I think it is an important election,” she said of the Bradenton Beach race. “I think every election is important.”

Addressing the Popcorn and Politics audience, Shearon said he wanted to “continue on in my service to the city” and, he demanded, “We have to control our spending.”

Pierce left the event before he could be called to the microphone to attend a dinner in his honor at the Sandpiper Resort.

Both candidates said they are finding enthusiastic support for their campaigns, and both urged citizen participation on election day.

“It’s going to be about getting people out to vote,” Shearon said. “That’s the concern this year.… But there is reason to come out. Both of us are very different.”

Pierce and Shearon ran against each other in the 2007 mayoral race seeking to succeed John Chappie, who could not serve again due to a term limit.

Voting in Bradenton Beach is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at Tingley Memorial Library.

For election results, visit www.islander.org and see the Nov. 11 print edition of the newspaper.