Joey Monetti is seven years from registering to vote, but that didn’t stop him from cheerleading for candidates Oct. 20.
The 11-year-old, attending The Islander’s Popcorn & Politics party outside the newspaper office, touted several candidates for office Nov. 2, including incumbent Manatee County Commissioner
Carol Whitmore, state legislative candidate Jim Boyd, Holmes Beach Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens and a ballot favorite, dad and Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti.
“I’ve never been in politics,” Joey Monetti said. “But my dad is. So I’m getting used to it, and I like it a lot.”
He waved a sign for Boyd, who is running against David Miner for the District 68 seat held by outgoing state Rep. Bill Galvano.
“My dad’s voting for him, so I like him,” Joey explained.
And he danced with a Whitmore campaign sign. “She’s nice,” Joey said of the commissioner.
John Monetti, watching his son, regretted not bringing his own campaign sign to the event — and chuckled about his lack of a secret ballot.
Candidates in attendance at Popcorn & Politics, in addition to Monetti, Boyd, Whitmore and Haas-Martens, included:
• Whitmore’s Democratic challenger Sundae Lynn Knight.
• Incumbent Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and challenger Michael Harrington.
• Sandy Mattick and Michael Selby for Anna Maria mayor.
• Holmes Beach commission candidate Jean Peelen.
• Scott Ricci for West Manatee Fire Rescue District.
• Manatee County school board candidate Julie Aranibar.
Like Joey Monetti, many Popcorn & Politics attendees arrived to The Islander to support their favorite candidates, not to decide how to cast ballots. A number of voters from Anna Maria attended in campaign colors and gear — white and blue shirts for Selby and yellow and black shirts for Mattick.
Still, the candidates, in short speeches that alternated with bluegrass tunes performed by The Hurricanes, made appeals to pick up new votes.
Mattick emphasized her experience as a federal employee and city board member, as well as in volunteerism and business.
She also stressed her interest in being a full-time, year-round mayor.
“This is the place we call home,” she said, referring to the extended Mattick family.
Seeking to further peace in a city with a reputation for acrimonious politics, Mattick added, “I will represent everyone equally, not a select few, not special interests…. My door will always be open to everyone.”
Selby said he’s looking to go to work. “I want to be the next mayor of Anna Maria,” he said.
He said when he and his wife Mary discussed his candidacy, they agreed that if he became mayor he would devote the next two years to the job.
Referring to intimations that, with a second-home in North Carolina he might be absent from the city, Selby said, “I will be a full-time resident.… So you can get that out of your mind.”
He also emphasized a commitment to seeing business prosper in Anna Maria.
“I’m pro-business,” Selby said. “Enough said.”
Selby said his goal is to “do what is best for the city and all of the citizens.”
Peelen, one of the first speakers at the forum, lightheartedly told the crowd, “I’ve never run or held political office … which might work in my favor.”
“There are things that need improvement” in Holmes Beach, she said, adding that she’s up to the job.
Monetti, with his wife and children looking on, said he was raised to give back to the community, which is why he first ran for city office and is seeking his third term.
He encouraged others to give back, too, whether that involves holding elected office or cutting the neighbor’s lawn.
Haas-Martens stressed her passion for politics and serving on the commission. “I just enjoy what I do,” said the veteran commissioner seeking her seventh term on the dais.
She added that Nov. 6 is her birthday and that another election win would be a great present.
From Bradenton Beach, Harrington attended the event but declined to speak.
Vosburgh, holding a campaign brochure high, said she’s a successful businessperson with the qualifications, time and interest to serve the city.
“I love Bradenton Beach,” she said.
Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt, who is unopposed on election day, also addressed the crowd. “I consider myself real fortunate to be part of Bradenton Beach,” he said.
Whitmore reminded Popcorn & Politics attendees of her roots — she’s a longtime Island resident and former mayor and commissioner from Holmes Beach.
“I have represented the Islands well,” Whitmore said. “My roots go way back on Anna Maria Island.”
She also reminded voters that she has not voted to raise taxes and “my door is always open.”
Knight offered her resume, which includes a number of government-related posts in engineering and public works, and her interest in streamlining and economizing.
“What I really want to do for Manatee County is help you all save money,” she said.
Ricci, the only WMFR commission candidate to attend, asked voters “to put a check by my name” on the ballot. He said the fire district “should be run as a business” and he has the skills to accomplish that.
Aranibar promised to focus on children and their performance in classrooms.
Boyd, stressing his fourth-generation Florida heritage, told Island voters, “I care about this community.”
In straw-polling — unofficial voting in Island-only races intended to be fun, not a prediction for election day — Mattick collected more votes than Selby and Vosburgh’s tally was higher than Harrington’s.
In the Holmes Beach poll, in which voters selected two commissioners from the field of three, Monetti received the highest number of votes, followed by Peelen, who had just one more ballot than did Haas-Martens.