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Date of Issue: June 09, 2010

Bradenton Beach mayor resigns

Michael Pierce resigned his mayoral post in Bradenton Beach June 3 citing “family needs.”

Pierce had won a second two-year term last November, defeating William Shearon, also his opponent in 2007, and receiving 65 percent of the vote.

With Pierce’s resignation, Bob Bartelt stepped out of the vice mayor role and Ward 4 commissioner seat to serve as mayor.

The development unfolded early in the commission meeting at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., and came more than a week before qualifying begins for the November municipal election.

Bartelt had planned to run for re-election to the commission, but he now will run for mayor.

Meanwhile, Janet Vosburgh will serve as the Ward 4 commissioner, also until the Nov. 2 election. She has plans to run for that office.

Pierce, in a statement, said he tendered his resignation with a “heavy heart.”

He opened the commission meeting with the traditional Pledge of Allegiance, but before delving into commission business announced a deviation from the agenda.

“I’m going to change the order a little bit today,” Pierce said.

He then asked city attorney Ricinda Perry to read his statement. She did, as Pierce and a hushed audience in the commission chambers listened.

“Over the past five years, I have enjoyed volunteering and serving on various boards, the city commission and, more recently, as mayor. These times gave me opportunities to meet many wonderful people and to work on great projects for our city,” Pierce stated.

He said, however, that family is top priority.

“While I had hoped to continue to serve out my term as mayor, recent family needs have arisen that require my personal attention, time and focus,” the statement read. “I have always felt that family needs must come first.”

Pierce, in the statement, thanked his wife Diane, his colleagues at the dais and city staff, as well as the city’s many volunteers serving on boards and committees.

He also thanked constituents.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me to serve as this city’s mayor,” he stated.

As he did when he campaigned for re-election last fall, Pierce, also a former commissioner, cited as accomplishments the construction of sidewalks along Gulf Drive, the installation of solar-powered lights on Bridge Street and along other city streets, the development of the multi-use path along the beach and park improvements.

“Collaborating on these efforts … was equally rewarding and important to me,” Pierce stated.

When Perry finished reading, there was applause from city staff, commissioners and the audience, and several people wiped tears from their eyes.

Pierce walked to where Bartelt was rising from his seat at the dais, patted Bartelt’s back and offered him the gavel.

The resigned mayor then stepped down from the dais and, moving through the chambers, shook the hands of well wishers.

At the back of the room, Pierce paused for brief but emotional words with County Commissioner John Chappie, a former mayor of Bradenton Beach.

Pierce was gone from the room before the praise for his years with the city began.

Commissioner Gay Breuler spoke first. “I would like to thank Mayor Pierce for all the work he has done,” she said. “He helped me start out. Held my hand. Showed me where to go. I thank him.”

Chappie said he “greatly appreciated” Pierce’s service to a city “we love.”

Bradenton Beach business owners Ed Chiles and David Teitelbaum also praised Pierce.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mayor Pierce,” said Chiles. “I’m thankful for his service. Sometimes It’s very difficult. Sometimes it’s thankless. Sometimes it’s not fun.… But it’s critically important.… And, Mayor Pierce, I think he reflects the kind of public servant that we want to have.”

“The city has benefited greatly from his activities,” said Teitelbaum, who also said he expected good work from the new administration.

For the record, the commission unanimously accepted Pierce’s resignation, unanimously appointed Janie Robertson as vice mayor and unanimously agreed to appoint Vosburgh, currently a member of the charter review committee, to serve out Bartelt’s commission term.

“I’m willing to accept,” said Vosburgh.

“We certainly appreciate you being willing to step forward,” Bartelt said, adding that the new commissioner will be sworn in at the June 17 commission meeting.

“She’s just a wonderful person and you couldn’t do any better than Jan,” Chappie said of the appointment.