Anna Maria Island voters head to polls in 3 cities

Anna Maria voters were headed to the Roser Memorial Community Church polling station at 512 Pine Ave. Nov. 5, to elect three commissioners from four candidates in the race. There were 1,302 city voters as of the Oct. 7 registration deadline for this election.

Holmes Beach has 3,289 registered voters in two precincts and all will vote in the municipal election at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive.

The polling station in Bradenton Beach for the city’s 911 voters has changed for the Nov. 5 municipal election from previous elections to the Annie Silver Community Center, 102 23rd Ave.

Voters were heading to the polls as the Nov. 6 edition of The Islander was being distributed Nov. 5, in advance of the dateline.

Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach voters faced choices from among five candidates seeking three seats in Holmes Beach, and two candidates each running for mayor and commissioner in Bradenton Beach.

The Holmes Beach commission candidates are incumbents Jean Peelen, Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino, along with political newcomers C. Melissa Williams and Carol Soustek. The top three vote-getters will take office.

In Bradenton Beach, former city commissioner Bill Shearon is challenging incumbent John Shaughnessy for mayor, while former Commissioner Janie Robertson and incumbent Commissioner Ric Gatehouse face off for the Ward 3 commission seat.

The four commission candidates in Anna Maria are incumbent Dale Woodland, newly appointed Doug Copeland, and political newcomers Carol Carter and Mike Jaworski.

Voters in Anna Maria are tasked with filling three seats from among the four candidates. The top three vote-getters will take office for two years.

Also being decided in Anna Maria is a charter amendment that defines how a mayor is selected in the event the office becomes vacant. The amendment also defines how a vacant seat on the commission is filled.

The Anna Maria organizational meeting and swearing-in ceremony for the new commission will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

A representative at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office said a 30-35 percent turnout of voters in an odd-year election would be a good figure.

Full results of the three city elections will be posted in The Islander’s online edition as they become available — after polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Online at in advance of the polls closing are biographical stories on each of the candidates in the three municipal elections and The Islander’s endorsements.

Know before you go to the poll.



Anna Maria municipal election candidates

Anna Maria has four candidates seeking one of the three seats on the commission in the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Carol Carter was born in Pennsylvania and raised on a dairy farm in Maryland. She has a pre-med degree from McDaniel College and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.

After marrying her husband Bob in 1983, she worked for various non-profit organizations such as The Pittsburgh Foundation, the national Feeding America organization, the Alzheimers Association and was chief fund-raiser for Carnegie Mellon University. She was a vice-chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. Carter currently works for Bob Carter Companies Inc., a company her husband owns that advises non-profit organizations.

She and her husband bought a home on Willow Avenue in 2001. Carter has not previously sought public office. She is a member of the city’s planning and zoning board.

The Carters have two sons who both live in Naples, and two grandchildren.

Doug Copeland first came to Anna Maria on a vacation trip in 1961.

He is originally from Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from DePauw University.

He was married in 1972 at his parents’ home on North Shore Drive. He and wife Pat moved to Anna Maria in 1974. He is currently an independent woodworker and has been a part-time job tending bar.

Copeland is a former chair of the planning and zoning board.

He was appointed to the commission in June following the resignation of Commissioner John


Copeland has two grown children and one grandchild.


Michael Jaworski

Jaworski was born in Michigan and received a degree in math from Olivet College.

He first came to Anna Maria on his honeymoon in 1971.

Jaworski worked for Ford Motor Company for 20 years as an electrician before returning to college and earning his degree.

On graduating, he returned to Ford and worked another 20 years as an engineer.

He and wife Frieda were married in 1971 and moved to Anna Maria in 2007. They have four grown children and six grandchildren.

Jaworski works part-time for both Island Real Estate in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria’s public works department.

He has not previously sought public office.


Dale Woodland

Woodland moved with is family to Anna Maria Island in 1953 when he was 5 years old. He attended Anna Maria Elementary School and Manatee High School.

He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in mathematics and was a computer systems developer in Sarasota and Manatee counties until retiring in 1996.

Woodland now owns a pool cleaning and supply business.

He is a former member of the planning and zoning board and is seeking his sixth term as a commissioner.

He has two children and five grandchildren.


Meet the Bradenton Beach municipal election candidates

There are two commissioner and two mayoral candidates in the Nov. 5 Bradenton Beach municipal election. The polling station has changed for the Nov. 5 election from previous elections to the Annie Silver Community Center, 102 23rd Ave.


John Shaughnessy

Incumbent Mayor John Shaughnessy did not respond in time to an Islander request for additional information.


Bill Shearon

Besides being a former Bradenton Beach commissioner, mayoral candidate Bill Shearon is a self-made businessman living in Bradenton Beach since 1995.

Shearon started a petroleum marketing company on his own and ran it for 27 years. He started the company as the only employee, but retired with 150 people in his employment.

Shearon is currently in the lucrative rental business on Anna Maria Island, owning and operating the Linger Longer Resort, 304 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach.

Having the need of a service dog, one of Shearon’s passions is helping others benefit from service dogs in gaining more independence in their lives.

He is active with the Lighthouse for the Blind and Southeastern Guide Dogs.


Ric Gatehouse

While breathing in the salt air of the sea is a vacation to many, Bradenton Beach Commissioner Ric Gatehouse made a career of it while serving in the dredging industry as a tugboat captain.

Gatehouse worked at sea International Union of Operating Engineers Local 25 Marine Division for almost 20 years beginning in the 1990s.

Included in a long career were the 1993 beach renourishment projects on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

He retired from dredging in 2010 and two years later began serving his first political term as Bradenton Beach commissioner.

Before his dredging career, Gatehouse worked in the entertainment industry as a DJ, bartender and manager. He also started a business as a management and artist consultant, as well as booking talent for various venues.

He began his entertainment career as a drummer in a rock band.

He cites many exciting endeavors, but none more rewarding than “serving the citizens of Bradenton Beach.”

He currently manages websites, including the city’s, but is seeking to turn those duties over to a different company.


Janie Robertson

Janie Robertson’s six years on the Bradenton Beach dais is experience enough to seek her former commission seat after being termed out of office in 2011.

She graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in kinesiology and administration and holds a kindergarten-college teaching certificate.

She retired to Florida in 1997, but is no stranger to the political realm, having held political party positions at the local, county and state levels in Michigan.

She was a consultant for such events as the Detroit auto show, statewide art shows and numerous dance and theater productions. She also was a personal image, wardrobe and design consultant.

Robertson said she is blessed with many talents that include being a musician. She played the bassoon in the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra in Michigan and was a dancer and choreographer in a semi-professional touring company.

She is the mother of three sons and was a Parent-Teacher Association officer for 12 years.

Before being elected to her Bradenton Beach office, Robertson was already involved in city politics. She participated in the city’s 2002 vision plan and served on the comprehensive plan review committee, as well as the Scenic Waves Partnership committee.

While her professional and political accolades are many, it’s how others view her integrity, caring and trustworthiness that she said prompted former constituents to ask her to continue her political career in Bradenton Beach.


Meet the Holmes Beach municipal election candidates

There are five candidates for the Nov. 5 Holmes Beach Commission election.

The Holmes Beach polling station for precincts 92 and 93 is at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive.


Jean Peelen

Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen manages city meetings as one role of being commission chair, but she brings plenty of outside experience to the dais.

Peelen spent 25 years as a federal civil rights attorney and manager specializing in the rights of children with disabilities in public schools, as well as fighting for women to have equal opportunities in education and intercollegiate athletics.

Her final two years in federal service was as chief of staff of an agency overseeing international radio and television programming.

Serving as a federal attorney for 25 years might not seem like a typical jump into modeling, but the diverse Peelen did just that when she retired. She is a model and commercial actress, has created radio programming on creative aging and is a two-time published author.

As a commissioner, her public service expanded as a member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, Manasota League of Cities and on the Urban Affairs Legislative Committee of the Florida League of Cities. She is actively pursuing an effort to repeal HB 883, which took away home rule for local governments to regulate rental homes.

Outside of her public service to Holmes Beach, Peelen serves on the Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board with the goal to make the jurisdiction a no-kill county. Until that happens, Peelen said the goal is to reduce the 50-percent kill rate in 2011 to less than 10 percent.

Her love of animals doesn’t stop there. She is a foster mother with Underdog Rescue for dogs waiting for adoption.

Peelen also founded the Anna Maria Island Chapter of Dining for Women, a giving circle that raises money to support women and children around the world.


David Zaccagnino

Eight-year Commissioner David Zaccagnino brings years of financial experience to the Holmes Beach dais.

For the past three years, Zaccagnino has worked as a financial adviser for Ameriprise Financial and, prior to that, worked for 11 years for Morgan Stanley.

Zaccagnino’s financial background was preceded by five years a chemical analyst after graduating from Florida State University with a degree in chemical science.

The commissioner put his master’s degree in business to work when he made the switch to financial adviser.

Zaccagnino grew up in Tampa, attending a Catholic grade school and graduating from a Jesuit high school.

He said from a young age, community service was part of his life and, he has served on the Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage board in Cortez, and in the Island Democratic Club, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Island Library, Rotary Club of Anna Maria and was a T-ball coach at the Anna Maria Island Community Center for two years.

Zaccagnino also has participated in local Sierra Club outings, served as chair of the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee prior to being a commissioner, and as a parishioner at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach.

He is married with three children and enjoys spending time with his family on the beach or in the boat.

Zaccagnino said he has a lot to be proud of in his public and private life, but takes being a dad to the next level with his involvement in his daughter’s Girl Scout Troop 316. He also has served as homeroom parent for his daughter’s Anna Maria Elementary School class.


Carol Soustek

Holmes Beach Commission candidate Carol Soustek brings some financial savvy to her campaign as a retired corporate accountant.

She is a second-generation Floridian and 24-year resident of Holmes Beach. A graduate of HCC in Tampa, Soustek has a business background suited for politics, but it’s her community involvement that she feels makes her ready for public service.

She has been a member of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring conservation group for 22 years and was awarded the group’s annual “Sadie” award for outstanding volunteer service.

She has served as treasurer for Save Anna Maria Inc. and is currently its vice president. She also is a longtime member of the Friends of the Island Library.

Soustek’s conservation efforts include being a member of the Seven Shores at Perico Island opposition movement, beach cleanup groups, supporting Grassy Point, Hands across the Sand and Preserve Our Waterline Road group. She also is a member of the Long Bar Pointe development opposition group.

She has city experience as part of a building codes work group and currently is serving as chair on the Holmes Beach Island Congestion committee.


C. Melissa Williams

Holmes Beach Commission candidate C. Melissa Williams may be new to politics, but she’s not new to public service.

A Holmes Beach resident and owner of Steam Designs, 5343 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, Williams is an active member of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and won the chamber’s 2009 Small Business of the Year award.

She has served on the Anna Maria Island Historical Society board for six years, including two years as president. She chaired the society’s Heritage Days Festival committee for four years.

She also was president of the Anna Maria Island Rotary Club from 2011-12.

Williams is involved with the island’s cultural sector, serving as a board member with Cultural Connections, the Coalition for Arts Advocacy and as the artsHop event coordinator for three years raising thousands of dollars for local nonprofits.

She served on the Anna Maria Island Art League board for two years as secretary. She also is a member of the Manatee County Historical Society.


Pat Morton

Commissioner Pat Morton has served on the dais for 10 years. He is actively involved with CrossPointe Fellowship. Morton did not respond to an Islander inquiry in time for deadline.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *