Bradenton Beach city commissioners will begin the new year still minus a colleague on the dais.
Since Nov. 8, the date of the general election, the city has lacked a Ward 3 commissioner. That’s because no one filed to run for the office vacated by Janie Robertson, who, due to term-limit rules, could not seek a fourth term on the city commission.
The charter leaves to the commission the responsibility of nominating and appointing a successer. That could happen as early as Jan. 5, the date of their next regular meeting.
As of Islander press time, two people had shown an interest in representing their ward — Richard Gatehouse and John Tillison.
Commissioners said last week that others interested in the seat should volunteer their names at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., in the next two weeks.
The city’s largest geographic ward, Ward 3 is generally bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the west, the bay on the east, the center of Second Street North on the south and about 1800 Gulf Drive North on the northern end.
Throughout her last term, Robertson repeatedly raised concerns about a lack of civic involvement from her ward, which has a large number of rental accommodations and a large population of seasonal occupants.
Anticipating there would be no candidate in November, she suggested either going to an at-large election of commissioners, which is how Anna Maria and Holmes Beach officials are seated, or creating three small wards and one at-large ward for Bradenton Beach. Either change would require a city charter amendment.
Robertson and other commissioners also raised concerns about the number of residents — and eligible voters — in Ward 3. In the late summer, when preparations for the Nov. 8 election were under way, a general survey in Ward 3 found a scarcity of occupied housing.
And the 2010 Census suggests a citywide change in population — more snowbirds than in 2000. The city’s population in 2010 was 1,171 people. The census count showed 643 households. The 2000 census count put Bradenton Beach’s population at 1,482 people.
In its 2010 housing count, the census bureau reported 1,859 housing units in Bradenton Beach, with just 35 percent of them occupied full-time. Of the 1,216 “vacant” housing units in the city, more than 700 — 38 percent — were for seasonal or occasional use.
In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau counted 1,762 housing units in Bradenton Beach. At that time, 45.6 percent were occupied by residents.