“I’m not a politician,” says Johnny “Scooter” Tillison, 71, who hopes to gain the appointment to the vacant Ward 3 seat on the Bradenton Beach City Commission, “but I love this little Island.
“There’s some things that need fixin’, the parking — everyone wants to park on Bridge Street — and rental problems,” said Tillison of the 400 block of Second Street North.
“They need a commissioner with experience,” he said, and he feels qualified to sort through the issues, especially those that are budget-related.
Tillison was a cost accountant in the 1960s for Rockwell Standard Corp. in Oklahoma and Georgia where he analyzed the burden of labor and other expenses of the aeronautics industry.
Originally from Turner Falls, Okla., Tillison also worked with Zales jewelery stores as a store opening coordinator when he moved to Bradenton Beach in the early 1970s. From 1976 to 2009 he lived in California and Nevada, operating a limousine business. In 2009, he returned to Bradenton Beach for retirement.
He couldn’t be happier to be back, he said, because he’s a “water guy” having lived much of his life by the water. He is now retired, but works occasionally at CostaVille restaurant. He said he has time on his hands and wants to give back to the city he loves.
As to issues facing the city commission, he’s concerned with the dune project, because “if you don’t protect it you’re going to lose it.”
“We have spent millions and we need to keep it up. We have to because that is why people come here.”
As a dog lover and pet owner, Tillison said, “I’d say yes, bring on the dogs,” favoring a change in the current laws prohibiting dogs on the beach. He also said he supports city-sponsored transportation between the beach parking areas and shopping district to alleviate the traffic and parking concerns of business owners.
And Tillison favors a charter change to an “at large” form of representation on the city commission.
During the interview, he pointed out his concern with the city’s mooring field, the bay waters south of the pier where people live on sailboats and run dinghies back and forth from the boats to the shore.
Tillison said he also likes helping merchants during festivals and the like. “They just say ‘Scooter, can you help me move this or that,’ and I do it.”
Tillison speaks with pride of his affiliation as a trustee on the board of directors for the Bradenton Beach Moose Lodge. He said the organization has about 1,600 local members who support the area’s economy and serve the community.
“We raise money for the underprivileged,” he said.