Effort to recall BB mayor reaches milestone

The Bradenton Beach Committee to Recall William Shearon has collected 119 signatures, more than the 100 needed to proceed to the next step to recall the mayor.

Former Commissioner Pete Barreda, chair of the committee, said Jan. 15 that he turned the petitions into the city Jan. 14.

Shearon confirmed Jan. 16 that clerk Terri Sanclemente submitted the petitions Jan. 15 to Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett.

Bennett’s office had 30 days to verify the signatures.

“Then we’ll move on from there,” Barreda said. “It’s like I said in the beginning: Let’s let the citizens decide.”

The committee is led by Barreda and treasurer Eric Robinson of Venice. It was formed in mid-December and had until mid-January to collect 100 signatures.

The petition alleges two counts of malfeasance related to two purported violations of Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws by Shearon. While he did comply with an open-records request last year that involved thousands of emails, Shearon said in December that the allegations in the petition were not specific enough for him to address them publicly.

Unlike constitutional amendments, which are reviewed for compliance before being placed on a ballot, Florida law does not require such a review for recall petitions.

Shearon’s attorney, Ralf Brookes of Cape Coral, said the petition appeared to meet the law’s requirements.

Alleging malfeasance or misfeasance “is probably enough to proceed at this pre-defense stage,” Brookes wrote in an email. The two counts “may be enough to get past this relatively easy hurdle for recalls.”

Brookes pointed out that the allegations on the petition would not appear on the actual ballot — if it proceeds.

According to state law, if the supervisor rules the petition contains 100 or more valid voter signatures, the city clerk will give Shearon five days to answer the charges in a 200-word rebuttal.

Shearon said while he may address the two allegations — which he calls “just an opinion” — directly, “the issue is really more my management style of getting things done.

“My main focus is to keep the city going. It’s a full-time job. The voters really need to look at my accomplishments. How we got there is immaterial.”

Shearon said he has taken an aggressive approach to solving some problems “and that always ruffles feathers, especially in government.”

After receiving the rebuttal, the clerk will prepare a “Recall Petition and Defense,” consisting of the recall petition, the rebuttal and lines for more signatures.

The recall committee will then be required to obtain the signatures of 115 voters — 15 percent of 763 eligible voters in the city — and file them with the clerk within 60 days. Those who sign the first petition can also sign the second one.

The supervisor will then have 30 days to verify those signatures. The clerk then informs the mayor and commission of the outcome.

Shearon would then have a five-day period in which he could resign. If he does not resign, the chief judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court sets the date for the recall election, to be held between 30 and 60 days after the five-day resignation-option period.

While steps in the process could be completed sooner, if every step took the allowed number of days, the election could be held as far off as 160 days from mid-January, according to Scott Farrington, Manatee County assistant supervisor of elections.

The recall election could be as far off as late June, only four months before the end of Shearon’s two-year term and the November 2015 city election.