Facing a May 19 recall election, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon sat down in his Gulf Drive home to discuss the mayor’s situation with The Islander.
Islander: With the recall approaching, what’s important for readers to know?
Shearon: I have a simple philosophy I use. Instead of talking the talk, I try to walk the walk. I try to be as positive as I can. The issue with this recall is that it’s very difficult to work under those conditions when you are such a positive-minded person. Despite all the negativity, the recall and the forfeiture, we’ve made substantial gains. That’s what I’m most proud of.
Islander: When you became mayor you were informed of numerous problems the city had by an auditor. In working to fix them, you’ve said people criticized your management style. Tell me about that.
Shearon: Part of it was frustration. I’m not a person who just lets things go by. When I came in, I didn’t have a clerk. The deputy clerk was not trained. We didn’t have a treasurer.
That was the major part of the dilemma that I came into. (The audit showed) 24 deficiencies and a material weakness. A material weakness is where (the city) broke state law. It was because we spent money that was not budgeted. That was corrected.
That was what I was challenged with from the auditor the day I was sworn in. I had a lot of issues on my plate. On top of this frustration, (there was concern about) our codes, ordinances, resolutions, policies and procedures.
We called in the county when this first came up and they reviewed the situation and found that everything was obsolete, unfixable. Probably the only criticism that I’ll have for myself is that under normal situations I would have never taken on all the things that we did. But the problem is, I didn’t have the luxury of picking one or two.
Most people would have just walked away. Why fight it? Why do I do it? Because I love my city. I’m 68 years old. Hard to change old dogs. My hope is this will all be over with and we can start out fresh.
Islander: Are there people who are employed by the city of Bradenton Beach who were upset that you were cleaning things up?
Shearon: The policies and procedures were either nonexistent or they were extremely loose. One of the things we caught was that there were 10 credit cards issued. There was no policy or procedure for that. That was rectified.
We’re a small town. A lot of the departments are inner-tangled. Even to this day, it’s something we have to work on. There’s a lack of true, defined responsibilities.
When you don’t have defined responsibilities, how can you hold somebody accountable? People should have responsibilities and be held accountable for those responsibilities.