Michael Harrington is a candidate for Ward 4 commissioner in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Michael Harrington’s candidate brochures contain multiple exclamation points.
That’s because the Bradenton Beach resident seeking his first elected office — that of Ward 4 city commissioner — is emphatic — “!!!” — about his interest in service and his qualifications for office.
Harrington, 73, lives in a quiet mobile home park near downtown Bradenton Beach where residents gather for coffee on Saturday mornings. He and his wife spend time on home improvements, “doing those kinds of things that keep you busy.” Nearby, there’s a family pontoon boat that the couple takes out on Sundays.
“We’re glad we made the move out here,” Harrington says. “We have a lot of friends in the park that we socialize with.”
From home, it’s a short walk to city hall, where Harrington has been headed quite often since qualifying to run for office in July. He attends most city commission meetings, as well as other board and committee meetings.
“Even being retired, I just find that I want to stay busy doing something,” Harrington says.
What he wants to do now is serve on the city commission, which is why he’s going door to door every day to talk with voters.
“I’m running because I feel I am more qualified than the person that was appointed,” Harrington says, referring to Janet Vosburgh, his opponent, who in June was tapped to fill the commission vacancy created by Bob Bartelt’s move from commissioner to mayor by appointment.
The nonpartisan Nov. 2 race is a genteel contest. “Jan’s a very nice woman,” Harrington says. “It’s a friendly race.”
Harrington is conversing with about 10-20 voters a day about taxes, the city budget, the mooring/anchorage field concept and downtown parking.
He’s also hearing from voters that they want their commission to protect “the great ambiance of Bradenton Beach.”
Harrington says that’s a top goal. “We’d be very disappointed, my wife and I, if they started allowing high rises and changed the area to a commercialized beach.”
Keeping the budget tight also is a goal, says Harrington, who, before retiring, managed property and amenities for multiple homeowner and condominium associations.
“I’d bring professionalism to the commission,” he says as he sips an iced tea recently at Rotten Ralph’s on the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
Harrington is running a low-budget campaign on his own money. He says he doesn’t mind asking for votes, but “if you take donations, you owe a favor. … I don’t want to get into that.”
Harrington moved to the area in 1984, after retiring from the sheriff’s department in Lansing, Mich., where he worked on patrol and in undercover narcotics.
He and his wife own a home in Sarasota, but they opted to rent it out so they can live on the Island.
When city hall issued a call for citizens to serve on committees about two years ago, Harrington responded. He is an initial member of the mooring/anchorage committee, which has been tasked with examining how best to operate the anchorage area south of the pier.
“It’s important work,” says Harrington, who hopes that next month he’ll be involved as a commission liaison to the committee rather than a committee member.
RESIDENCY: 13 Church Ave., Bradenton Beach.
OCCUPATION: Retired, facilities management, law enforcement.
OFFICE SOUGHT: 4th ward city commissioner.
FAMILY: Wife of 47 years, four children, nine grandchildren.
INTERESTS: Fishing and community.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Member of the Bradenton Beach Mooring and Anchorage Committee, past president of Kiwanis, past Kiwanian of the year, past director of Pines Trailer Park Homeowners Association.
CAMPAIGN MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS (as of Sept. 15): Personal contributions.
QUOTE TO LIVE BY: “Just be happy in whatever you do.”
CAMPAIGN MOTTO: “Your Dedicated Representative.”
Harrington makes bid for commission seat
An Islander Q&A with Michael Harrington, candidate for city commissioner in Bradenton Beach’s Ward 4 in the Nov. 2 general election.
The Islander: Why did you decide to run for office in November?
Michael Harrington: I feel my experience will be an asset to the city.
The Islander: What are your qualifications for this office?
MH: Nine years as a facilities/community association manager.
The Islander: What are the three top goals/positions in your platform?
MH: Balanced budget, keeping the ambiance as is, and the parking problem.
The Islander: What is your understanding of Florida’s Sunshine/Public Records laws?
MH: I have been through the class and the full understanding would not fit on this page. I am aware of the details and will abide by them.
The Islander: From time to time there is talk of consolidating local governments and/or local services. How do you feel about consolidation?
MH: I do not agree with consolidating the governments or the police departments. I would have to have more information as to the advantage/disadvantage of consolidation other services.
The Islander: Characterize the direction of the locality. Right track? Off-track? Wrong track? Explain.
MH: We are on the right track. We have a good mayor, and he is taking us in the right direction.
The Islander: Why should voters cast their ballot for you?
MH: I have the experience for just this type of position and feel that experience is very important in dealing with the issues.
The Islander: What is the most significant issue facing the electorate at this time? How will you handle that issue?
MH: All of the issues are significant. We are dealing with a parking problem, keeping the ambiance requested by the residents and guests, making sure the budget is within a reality and balanced and keeping the waterways clean by regulating the anchorage field for the benefit of the live aboard boaters and well as the transients.
The Islander: Local governments are beginning a new fiscal year. What is your view of the local budget/tax situation? And how do you approach government finances?
MH: Bradenton Beach is just now in the budgeting process. I feel at this point that they are doing what is necessary for Bradenton Beach.
The Islander: Is there a promise you want to make to voters?
MH: Yes, I promise to listen to the residents and act accordingly. It is so important to listen to the people that have elected you. They have elected you as their representative. You should always keep that in mind.