3 WMFR seats, 3 district candidates run unopposed, Davis retires

Two incumbents and a newcomer face no opposition for seats on the West Manatee Fire Rescue Commission.

       An unexpected retirement changed the Nov. 6 election landscape during qualifying week for the WMFR board of commissioners.

       District 1 Commissioner Jesse Davis, a 20-year-veteran of the board, decided June 4 against taking on a re-election bid, leaving challenger Larry Jennis the only candidate seeking the District 1 seat to take office after the election.

       Davis said last week he decided not to run following an emergency medical procedure.

       “Right now I’m not at my optimum condition,” he said, adding he now has three heart stents. He’s spoken to WMFR Chief Andy Price about his decision, and he was supportive, said Davis.

       “I love the district,” he said. “The decision was not made lightly.”

       Jennis, a seven-year district resident, declared his run for the District 1 seat last month after participating in the spring WMFR Citizen Academy.

       With Davis sitting out the election, Jennis will automatically take the District 1 seat for a four-year term.

       It is Jennis’ first bid for public office. He says he wants to contribute his management experience to the district.

       WMFR Commissioner David Bishop qualified for his first election in District 4. He is unopposed for the seat, having been appointed last year by the board to replace former Commissioner John Rigney, who moved from the district.

       Bishop is an architect and life-long district resident who has served on the WMFR board since July 2011.

       He announced in May his intention to retain his seat and run for the remaining two-year term. He now will remain on the board.

       Commission Chair Randy Cooper, also unopposed, will fill another four-year term.

       Cooper was first elected as a commissioner in 2008. A former volunteer firefighter in west Hillsborough County, he served 11 years in the Florida National Guard and moved to Bradenton from Tampa in 2003.

       Last week also saw Al Robinson of Holmes Beach pre-qualify for the District 4 seat. Robinson previously ran for a seat on the WMFR commission and subsequently served one term as a Holmes Beach city commissioner. He lost his bid for re-election in 2011.

       However, Robinson did not qualify by the June 8 deadline, according to Manatee County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Nancy Bignell, and will not be on the ballot.

       According to the supervisor of elections office, there are 23,026 registered voters in the WMFR district as of April 2011.

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