The Islander’s annual Popcorn and Politics event for candidates and voters from each island city drew a good crowd Oct. 25, to the newspaper’s new offices at 5406B Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
Also attending were members of the Manatee County branch of the League of Women Voters. Rosalie Schaffer, Kathleen Dodge and Lesley Jacobs, offering attendees straw poll ballots for each of the island’s three municipal elections.
The straw poll appeared to attract a large volume of voters at the onset, possibly because some interested parties solicited a voting bloc to tip the scales. Of note were two Holmes Beach elected officials — Mayor Carmel Monti and Commissioner Marvin Grossman — and others who voted and left the event without hearing introductions or speeches from the candidates.
The only candidates not present were Commissioner Ric Gatehouse, and Anna Maria commission candidate Carol Carter. Carter said she was hosting a family event that was planned ahead of Popcorn & Politics.
Each candidate presented his or her views and gave a brief description of their background.
John Shaughnessy is seeking re-election as Bradenton Beach mayor. He said he wants to continue the work his administration and the current commission have ongoing. That includes procuring up to $1 million in funding from the Manatee County Tourist Development Council to fully repair and reopen the city pier.
Also seeking the mayoral post is former Bradenton Beach Commissioner Bill Shearon. He noted the city failed to collect 11 months of payments from the former city pier restaurant and, not only was the public not informed, the city was unaware of the arrears. He wants to focus on the budget and lowering taxes, responsible spending and improved department planning.
Running against Gatehouse for Bradenton Beach commissioner is Janie Robertson. She previously served as a commissioner for six years before being termed out of office. She spent two years on the sidelines and is now seeking a return to the commission. Robertson said people know how straightforward she is. She also wants more public input and comments on decisions of the city.
She said Gatehouse has done a good job, but she wants more for the city.
Holmes Beach has five candidates for three two-year commission seats in its municipal election.
Incumbent Jean Peelen said she enjoys public service, but not the politics involved. She said she wants to keep the commission energized, much as it has been the past year.
Political newcomer C. Melissa Williams said she wants to return harmony to Holmes Beach between visitors and residents and the business community and city hall.
She said her established record of public service to a variety of nonprofits, including the island chamber of commerce, Rotary club and historical society are positive proof of her commitment to the community.
A second political newcomer, Carol Soustek, said she wants to join the team presently serving the city. She wants to see affordable housing for people who work on the island. She said she would not give in to the developers who are taking away the community.
Commissioner Pat Morton is seeking his sixth term as Holmes Beach commissioner.
He said people know him and know they can always talk to him about problems. He wants to stop the lawsuits against the city and said he is seeking another term on behalf of the residents. He said he is here for the city, the citizens and the community.
Commissioner David Zaccagnino also is seeking re-election in Holmes Beach.
He said he is the voice of reason on the commission. He said some current commissioners want him out because he speaks the truth. He said the attitude of “my way or the highway” should not be used by the administration or other commissioners. He said he gives balance and fairness to the commission, and he is “not under the thumb of the mayor.”
Anna Maria has four candidates for three commission seats.
Doug Copeland, who was appointed to the commission in June, said he originally thought he would not seek election but, after four months of service and seeing some of the good work he and the commission have accomplished, he wants another two years. He said he obtained a master plan for Gulf Front Park and is applying for a grant to improve the park. He served on the planning and zoning board for more than 20 years.
Commissioner Dale Woodland is seeking his sixth term. He said he loves the job of helping the city improve itself. He said he is always upfront with people and does not let disagreements bother him. There are many issues common to all three island cities, but the solutions are going to be different in each city.
Political newcomer Michael Jaworski said he is running for office because he was “embarrassed” after nobody ran for mayor in 2012. He said he wants to keep the “family-friendly atmosphere” of Anna Maria with planned growth, such as the city has experienced on Pine Avenue.
League of Women Voters’ straw poll results
ANNA MARIA COMMISSIONER
1. Carol Carter
2. Dale Woodland
Tie: Doug Copleland and Michael Jaworski
BRADENTON BEACH MAYOR
BRADENTON BEACH COMMISSIONER
HOLMES BEACH COMMISSIONER
1. Pat Morton
2. Carol Soustek
3. Jean Peelen
Official election results will be posted online shortly after the polls close Nov. 5.