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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

O'Brien out of commission race in Bradenton Beach

Citing family concerns, Bradenton Beach Ward 4 City Commissioner Anna O'Brien announced Aug. 2 that she was withdrawing from the Nov. 2 ballot, making Bill Shearon the commissioner-elect for the southern portion of the city.

"I can't do two things," O'Brien said, "and I have to take care of some family stuff, but I have complete and total confidence with Bill Shearon that he will be able to sit in this seat."

O'Brien, who was elected to the office in November 2002, said she would continue to work on several pending issues, "but I can't feel I can commit for this next year. I'm sorry."

She added that she would serve through November, the remainder of her term,.

O'Brien has been something of a firebrand on the commission in the past year, leading the charge to replace the city attorney and city planner just after the November 2003 elections. At that time, the commission also placed the city's department heads on probation.

Since last November, the city's building official, city clerk and code enforcement officer have resigned.

"I'm proud of what you guys have done," O'Brien told commissioners.

She was lauded for her efforts on the commission by her peers.

Ward 3 City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips told O'Brien that she felt "congratulations are in order for achieving three out of four [ballot initiatives]. I think three out of four is outstanding and is a lasting contribution to the city."

Bradenton Beach electors Aug. 31 rejected a city commission initiative to change the city's charter to have a city manager form of government, but approved three other charter changes, limiting height of buildings to no more than 29 feet above Federal Emergency Management Agency "base-flood" elevations, forestalling the sale of any city waterfront access, and requiring at least a four-member commission vote to approve changes to land use laws and other major developments within the city.

Mayor John Chappie told O'Brien that "we've butted heads a few times, but we've made great progress and you have been the stimulus, and a lot of good things have happened since November."