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Another season on threshhold: Election season

By Mark Young and Rick Catlin, Islander Reporters

Former Bradenton Beach city commissioner and planning and zoning board member William “Bill” Shearon has filed preliminary papers with the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office to run for mayor.

According to the documents, Shearon filed May 23 and named longtime business partner at the Linger Longer Resort, Tjet Martin as his campaign manager.

Shearon and Martin also are two-thirds of a plaintiff group suing the city over a development agreement between Bradenton Beach and the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N.

Shearon was a P&Z member during a land development application process for the BeachHouse to construct a dune and parking lot on the south side of the restaurant. In exchange for the agreement and for BeachHouse owner Ed Chiles to pay the lion’s share of the construction costs, the restaurant was to receive a parking area on the open beach adjacent to the restaurant.

P&Z recommended denial, but city commissioners voted to approve the project at a contentious city meeting more than a year ago, that led to Shearon’s resignation and three others, as well as the eventual lawsuit that remains unresolved.

Shearon is the first island candidate to announce for the Nov. 5 election that has the terms of Mayor John Shaughnessy and Commissioners Ric Gatehouse and Gay Breuler coming up for contest.

Shaughnessy said July 3 that he has not made a decision on whether he will seek another term. Breuler, just married and moving off-island, already announced she will not run for another term, while Gatehouse said he inquired about election packet availability, but it was too soon to make a decision. He added that packets were not available at the time of his inquiry.

Shearon, who served more than two terms on the dais before giving up his seat for an unsuccessful mayoral bid, said there are three main reasons he is running for mayor again.

“The primary reason has to do with the financial process of the city,” said Shearon. “There has been no accountability and personal responsibility from this administration. The city is over-spending and the commissioners have no idea what they are spending money on.”

He criticized the budget process and said the administration relies too heavily on city staff, “when it is the mayor’s and commissioners’ jobs to make those decisions.”

Secondly, Shearon said better policies and procedures need to be put in place. The former commissioner said the pier lease debacle with Rotten Ralph’s restaurant was a prime example.

“How do you have a tenant that isn’t paying $9,000 a month in rent and you don’t know about it for a year?” he asked.

Shearon said the city has not been focused when it comes to completing projects and said an updated list of objectives and goals, both long-term and short-term, should be prepared and acted upon as needed.

He also wants more involvement from the public and feels the current administration is responsible for a lack of that involvement.

“You have a P&Z board that struggles to keep quorum and a Scenic Waves Partnership Committee that has no involvement,” said Shearon. “That’s because you have an administration that discourages public involvement and, when people do want to be involved, they are criticized.”

Shearon hopes to see more involvement in this year’s elections for mayor and commission.

“I want people to get involved and for voters to have choices,” he said. “That’s when the system works best. For too long, Bradenton Beach has had officials without experience get elected because there has been no opposition. That’s not good for anybody.”

Commission seats up for re-election in Anna Maria are those held by Gene Aubry, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland.

Copeland, appointed to the commission in June to fill a vacancy created by John Quam’s resignation, said he had not made a decision on running.

On the other hand, Woodland was definitive. He will seek re-election to his sixth term in office. Aubry, who was appointed to the commission in 2012 after SueLynn filled the mayor’s post, also will run to keep his seat.

Carol Carter, who said in June she would seek a seat on the commission in November after withdrawing her application to be appointed to replace Quam, also plans to run.

Anna Maria commissioners are elected to a two-year term and are paid $400 per month.

In the city of Holmes Beach, Commission Chair Jean Peelen and longtime Commissioners Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino have terms expiring in November.

Zaccagnino, a seated commissioner for the past eight years, said July 5 that he intends to seek another term on the dais.

“It’s early in the process, so I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but I’m definite that I will run again,” he said.

Morton, a commissioner for 10 years, said, “God willing, I am planning on running again.”

Peelen, voted into office two years ago and elected commission chair after the 2012 election, also will run for re-election.

“I started a job and it’s not finished yet,” she said. “I absolutely want to finish what I started.”

 

The process

According to the Manatee County SOE’s website, candidacy may be announced at any time, but the SOE office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton, said candidate qualifying packets will not be delivered to the island cities until August.

A prospective candidate must first file a form to appoint a campaign treasurer and designate a campaign depository — a bank account — with the SOE before contributions can be accepted or funds are spent.

The candidate then must file a statement of candidate form within 10 days of filing the treasurer and bank designation forms.

Candidates can file early by obtaining a qualifying packet at the SOE office.

Candidate qualifying in the three island cities begins with Anna Maria on Aug. 19. Qualifying for Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach begins Aug. 26. All three cities wrap up at noon Aug. 30. The city elections are non-partisan.

In Anna Maria, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County and a resident of the city for two years prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit for both the candidate and his/her treasurer.

The candidate must pay a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought — $96 for mayor, $48 for commission seat — and obtain 10 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

Qualifying packets are expected to be available at each city hall at the time qualifying begins.

In Bradenton Beach, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County in the ward for which he/she qualifies and a resident of the city for nine months prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit, as well as 10 resident affidavits attesting to the candidate’s residency.

The candidate must pay qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought — $96 for mayor, $48 for commission seat — and obtain 10 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

In Holmes Beach, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County and a resident of the city for two years prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit.

The candidate must pay a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought —$60 for a commission seat and $120 for mayor, although the mayor’s seat does not expire until 2014 — and obtain 15 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

Candidates in all three cites can opt to file an undue burden oath, which eliminates the election assessment fee if all other requirements are met.

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