Bradenton Beach voters Nov. 6 will fill two seats on their city commission.
Candidates include incumbents Ralph Cole and Marilyn Maro and former volunteer board members Tjet Martin and John Metz.
The races are nonpartisan and the winning candidates will serve two-year terms, receiving $400 monthly stipends.
Of 744 registered voters in the city, 387 voted in the November 2017 election.
Voters will cast ballots 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at precinct No. 307, the Bradenton Beach Volunteer Fire Hall, 201 Second St. N.
Ralph Cole, 57, will wrap-up a one-year term in November. After being elected in 2015 and serving his first two-year term, commissioners appointed Cole to fill the seat vacated by John Chappie when he was elected mayor last November.
If elected to a third term, the 39-year Bradenton Beach resident says he will continue to work on infrastructure improvements in the city, including stormwater drainage.
He said he sees being “good stewards of the environment” as a top priority and cited his interest in developing a “living shoreline” in the anchorage adjacent to the Historic Bridge Street Pier — a plan that could include clam beds the clean the water.
As chair of the city’s community redevelopment agency, Cole has spearheaded a project to move utilities along Bridge Street and parts of Gulf Drive underground, which should commence in 2019.
“I think we have got a really good start on some excellent projects in the CRA, compared to when I came into office three years ago,” he said. “We’ve gained momentum there and I’m excited to see where we take it.”
Marilyn Maro, who declined to provide her age, has lived on Anna Maria Island for 21 years. She first registered to vote in 1998, shortly after moving to the island.
Maro was appointed to the commission in 2016 and serves as vice mayor.
As commissioner, Maro supported the building moratorium on large vacation rentals and extensions while the planning and zoning board worked on code amendments and also supported noise, trash and parking regulations.
As liaison to the Scenic Waves Partnership Committee, she has worked on proposals to improve parks.
Maro collaborated with city planner Alan Garrett to rezone Katie Pierola Sunset Park, 2200 Gulf Drive N., from residential to a public recreation area district, so the property cannot be sold. The rezone question will be presented to voters Nov. 6.
“Our parks here are top priority, and I want to make sure Katie’s park always remains a park for people in our city,” Maro said. “To me, our most important issue is preserving the character of Bradenton Beach that everyone loves.”
Tjet Martin, 56, was a part-time resident of the island for eight years before moving to Bradenton Beach as a full-time resident in 2003 with her partner, former Mayor Bill Shearon.
She first registered to vote when she was 21.
Martin served on volunteer city boards for 13 years and previously chaired Scenic Waves.
During her time as chair, Martin pushed for park improvements, including development of City Park, a pocket park across from city hall on Gulf Drive.
Additionally, Martin spearheaded the project to install fitness equipment along the Coquina Beach Trail. The project used Manatee County beach concession funds and was completed in August.
She says projects in the city lack oversight and, if elected, she will “not just let things go.”
“I’m going to be keeping an eye on what has already been approved and make sure it gets done right,” Martin said. “I will also make sure that new projects in the city benefit the residents and are done correctly so that taxpayer dollars are not wasted on things that do not benefit them.”
Former planning and zoning board member John Metz, 75, moved to the island in 2013 and registered to vote in Bradenton Beach shortly after settling in the city.
Metz, a retired attorney, says the current commission places more importance on the desires of business owners than those of the residents.
“The needs of the residents are being ignored in favor of projects that benefit businesses,” Metz said. “I want to improve the residents’ situation here.”
He said if elected he would bring back a moratorium on construction of large vacation rentals and vote against increased taxes.
Additionally, he would work to ensure people who are not residents are not appointed to city volunteer boards.
“The city is in a situation where it has to decide what the future will be,” Metz said. “I will do the best I can to make sure it remains a residential beach town as opposed to a tourist haven that favors business.”