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Bradenton Beach mayor seeks ward 3 interest

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy holds a picture of his family next to a map of the city following an interview at city hall. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Almost like they’re family, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy can’t say enough about his pride in the city and the people he works with in his job as the city’s top administrator.

He looks at the appointment of the next city commissioner in a similar way. Asked what kind of person would make a good commissioner, the mayor said: “Someone genuinely interested in Bradenton Beach.

“Also, you can’t let your personal stuff get in the way,” he added.

Because no candidate came forward to run for the Ward 3 commission seat in the November election when former commissioner Janie Robertson’s third and final term had run out, the Bradenton Beach City Commission is expected to appoint a person to fill the vacancy at its Jan.5 meeting.

At press time Dec. 22, only two candidates had shown interest in the appointment, Richard Gatehouse and John Tillison. Gatehouse sent a letter of interest to city clerk Nora Idso, and Tillison submitted a three-page list of references to city hall.

Shaughnessy, a former six-year Ward 1 city commissioner, was elected mayor in November. No one else ran for the seat. He is now in his fifth week of his two-year term.

“The big thing coming up this year is the budget,” not having enough money to provide city services. “Every city in the U.S. is having that problem,” Shaughnessy said.

He acknowledged that the city’s population is dwindling, and because “we make decisions for the entire city, not just a single ward,” the mayor favors changing the city charter to an “at-large” representation. However, that requires changing the city charter and will require a citywide vote.

One issue facing Bradenton Beach in the near future is the ongoing dune project in partnership with ELRA Inc., owners of the Beachhouse Restaurant. The project will create a line of dunes and landscaping to protect the shoreline across from city hall from erosion.

Another issue is providing services for the community.  Everyone, from the members of commission to city hall, the police, building department and public works, “does 150 percent” and, also important is that everyone continues to “keep communication lines open,” said Shaughnessy.

The mayor said he did not know either Ward 3 candidate, but believed the new commissioner should have good judgment, along with a genuine interest.

“Bradenton Beach is the star of the island,” said Shaughnessy. “There’s more beach area, lots to do, very close between the Gulf and the bay. I love it here.

“You know the city is going to be here long after we’re gone,” he added.

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