Bradenton Beach P&Z member applies for commission seat

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Former Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Jim Lynch, vice chair of the planning and zoning board and an applicant for the vacant seat on the city commission, meet in January on the steps of city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. Islander File Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

Will it be a card draw? Or musical chairs?

A seat on the Bradenton Beach dais is up for appointment and a new applicant has applied while another contender has withdrawn.

As of the Dec. 1 application deadline, planning and zoning board vice chair Jim Lynch had applied for the open city commission seat, while former P&Z member Bill Vincent withdrew the application he filed in November.

Additionally, former Ward 3 Commissioner Ralph Cole, who lost his seat to Randy White in the Nov. 7 election, also is vying to rejoin the commission.

Ward 4 Commissioner John Chappie was elected mayor Nov. 7, opening his seat to appointment by the commission.

However, with the passing of charter amendment 1, which replaces the city’s four wards with at-large elections, the seat became open to applicants from any area of the city — not just Ward 4.

“I just wanted to give them another option,” Lynch said Nov. 28. “I have the background, desire to help and I see it as an opportunity to offer my availability.”

Lynch, a former Hillsborough County attorney for 10 years, now retired, serves as a volunteer ombudsman, helping to resolve concerns between people living in assisted-care facilities — who often have no representation — and administrators.

Lynch said as commissioner, he would use his experience as a P&Z member, lawyer and ombudsman to help resolve issues in the city without the need for litigation.

He said it is important that issues brought before the city commission receive a “fair and objective hearing,” soliciting the views of all interested parties — residents and business owners.

“Local government should be very efficient and responsive to residents and contractors dealing with the city,” Lynch said. “Issues need to be addressed rationally and in a professional manner.”

Vincent, a commission candidate in the 2016 election, former Scenic Waves Partnership Committee member and former P&Z board member, has been actively involved in the city since 2007.

However, Vincent currently is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former Mayor Jack Clarke and joined by the city, alleging he violated Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws as chair of the Concerned Neighbors of Bradenton Beach while also serving on the P&Z board.

Vincent said Nov. 27 after grappling with the decision, he could not picture himself “sitting on the dais with two commissioners that voted to sue me and two others that are content to continue with the suit.”

He said he would have had to recuse himself from votes dealing with the suit, which he said would likely continue for at least a year.

Additionally, Vincent said, as CNOBB founder and chair, he has been pushing “free and fair elections” and would not feel comfortable being appointed.

“Now we will have three of five commissioners on the dais that either were appointed or ran unopposed,” Vincent said.

Vincent said he is supporting Lynch.

“We’ve had some good conversations and I can tell he really cares about what’s best for the city,” Vincent said Nov. 27.

If the vote for the appointment is split between the mayor and commissioners, the city again will determine the winner by a card draw for the third time in three years.

The special meeting to appoint the fifth commissioner will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

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