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Date of Issue: November 04, 2009

AM candidates expect good voter turnout

The five candidates seeking one of the three Anna Maria city commission seats up for election Nov. 3 all said they expect a heavier than normal voter turnout for an off-year election.

The last off-year election in Anna Maria in which city commissioners faced challengers was in November 2005. In that election, 43 percent of the city’s 1,483 registered voters cast ballots.

Candidate Christine Tollette, an incumbent city commissioner, said there is usually a drop in the number of voters during an off-year election, but because of the serious issues involved in Anna Maria she expected a “better-than-usual” turnout.

Likewise, candidates John Quam and Dale Woodland, both incumbent city commissioners, said they would not be surprised to see large numbers of voters at the polling station Nov. 3.

“It’s always difficult to get voters during an odd-year,” said Quam, “but I believe this year will be different.”

Woodland said he, too, expects a good turnout.

Political newcomer Harry Stoltzfus said that during his talks with voters, he’s “gotten a sense that many people would vote.”

David Gryboski, also a newcomer to politics, said he believed the voter turnout would be larger than expected.

“People have told me they’re coming to vote,” he said.

But it might be difficult to top the percentage of voters in the 2008 national election.

Of the city’s 1349 registered voters in November 2008, 1,177 (82.2 percent) voted in the election that included state and national offices on the ticket.

Mayor Fran Barford and Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick were returned to office in that election, while Chuck Webb narrowly defeated Bob Barlow for a seat on the commission that had been vacated by Duke Miller, who chose not to seek another term.

Anna Maria continues to lose population and registered voters.

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, the city has lost 9.1 percent of its registered voters the past four years.

In the November 2005 election, the city had 1,483 voters registered, while for the November 2009 election, only 1,349 registered voters are on the rolls.