Even in the worst of times, Bradenton's leaders pursued initiatives and projects that today have positioned the city for a brighter future. The city's economic, cultural and social fabric is undergoing a transformation with progress downtown and elsewhere.
Bradenton's elected leaders share that success. Two are vying for the city's top post: incumbent Mayor Wayne Poston and Councilwomen Marianne Barnebey. The third mayoral contender, Richard O'Brien, hopes to upset the two longtime officials with a campaign based on new leadership and fresh ideas.
This nonpartisan contest will be decided on Nov. 6 as city voters decided to eliminate runoff elections in the August balloting.
Poston has served as mayor since 2000 while Barnebey first joined the City Council as the Ward 2 representative in 1998. Bradenton has made great strides while grappling with the Great Recession.
One of the most visible improvements enjoyed its opening ceremonies on Thursday. Downtown's Riverwalk holds significant promise for the city as an economic engine, tourism magnet and resident attraction.
The Cedar Hammock-Wares Creek flood control project; the creation of Realize Bradenton Inc. to promote downtown; ongoing upgrades to McKechnie Field, and construction of the 13th Ave Dream Center at the new Norma Lloyd Park are but four of the other major improvements to the city over the past few years.
Poston is running his campaign on that record of success, though Barnebey enjoys credit, too. But this election should focus on the future, not the past.
As such, Poston points out that experienced and proven leadership is necessary to deal with the still tough economy, the top issue facing Bradenton.
To that end, he vows to hold the line on taxes while managing a budget that trims government yet maintains the quality of services residents expect.
Poston's leadership skills extend to a host of service and social organizations, including as president of such varied groups as the YMCA, Gulf Coast Marine Institute, Florida Gulf Coast Symphony Guild, the Manasota League of Cities and the United Negro College Fund's Manatee County chapter. Along with board membership on many other organizations, Poston hold extensive community connections -- moreso than his opponents.
Moving forward, Poston hopes to finish achieving some goals that became stalled in the economic downturn, including the development of an arts and entertainment district around McKechnie Field and advancing projects through the 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency. That would prove beneficial to Village of the Arts, another cultural asset but one that needs nurturing.
The Herald's Editorial Board agrees that proven leadership and experience are vital traits as the city continues to progress out of a still soft economy. We recommend Wayne Poston as mayor of Bradenton.
Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board's endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 300 words by 4 p.m. the next weekday after the endorsement appears in print.
Those can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 745-7047.
View candidate forums
The Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, videotaped candidate forums in a variety of key races.
These forums can be viewed on www.bradenton.com on the "Recent Multimedia" page. METV is also regularly airing all the forums, and the station can be viewed on Brighthouse channel 614, Verizon FIOS 31 and Comcast 19.
For METV airtimes, visit www.metvweb.com.