Elections signal winds of change on Anna Maria

rdymond@bradenton.comNovember 9, 2011 

MANATEE -- Incumbent Al Robinson lost his seat on the Holmes Beach City Commission on Tuesday night, and got the fewest votes in the process.

Robinson’s demise was part of a revealing night of elections in the Island cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

With voters asked to pick three of five candidates in Holmes Beach, David Zaccagnino captured the most votes with 696, according to the Manatee County elections office. Pat Morton came in second with 651 and Jean Peelan won the last seat with 575.

Andy Sheridan and Robinson fell short, with 401 and 326 votes, respectively.

“I think the voters were telling us there’s a huge problem on Holmes Beach,” said first-time office holder Peelan, who added she talked to 2,000 voters, going door to door, since Sept. 1.

“They are upset about the number of three-story duplexes going up as rental properties. I heard it over and over.”

Peelan, who celebrated her victory at Hurricane Hank’s, is a retired U.S. government employee.

The percentage of registered voters turning out in Holmes Beach was 30.30 percent.

Meanwhile, in the Anna Maria City Commission race, Dale Woodland, John Quam and SueLynn won seats in a four-candidate race.

The vote totals: Woodland 463, Quam 415, SueLynn 359. Nancy Yetter, who was highly regarded by some of her opponents, fell short in fourth with 291 votes.

The percentage of registered voters turning out in Anna Maria was 47.46 percent.

Quam was delighted to be able to extend his nine years of service.

“I was confident, but I am still very pleased with outcome,” said Quam, who was disappointed the turn-out wasn’t a bit higher. “This is the first time that Anna Maria has had such a low percentage come out.”

Like in Holmes Beach, Anna Maria has been hit with change from the rental home business.

“My mission will be to keep the city of Anna Maria’s single-family residential character and to improve the quality of life for residents here,” Quam said.

For SueLynn, it was a trip back to city politics after a stint as mayor from 2002-06.

She celebrated with a party at her home for about 50 friends.

“In the last year I had begun to think about issues in the city and I wanted to get back involved,” SueLynn said. “I think we need to take whatever steps we can to ensure the residential nature of Anna Maria will be preserved. We are losing residents too fast. We’re at a tipping point. It used to be that people bought homes in Anna Maria to retire. Now they buy them to rent them. It’s simply about money. I have friends who are completely surrounded by rental homes and they can’t cope with the fact that every night is a party.”

She also felt bad for Yetter. “I really regret that Nancy Yetter wasn’t elected,” SueLynn said. “I think the city missed an opportunity for much needed change.”

The two city contests were the only contested municipal races in Manatee on Tuesday.

Commissioners serve two-year terms with other seats open in even-numbered years.

The next Manatee County election will be the Trailer Estates board of trustees Dec. 6, followed by the presidential primary Jan. 31, 2012.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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