Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston beats 2 challengers to win re-election

mvalverde@bradenton.comNovember 6, 2012 

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston appears heading towards re-election.

With all precincts reporting, Poston had 39.4 percent of the vote. Challenger Richard O'Brien had 32.6 percent; and City Council member Marianne Barnebey had 28 percent.

In the primary election in August, Bradenton voters decided to eliminate runoff elections. The candidate who receives the most votes, not the majority, will be elected mayor.

Poston’s continuous message was that he was running on a “record of success.” Under his administration, the city has moved forward with projects years in the making, he said, like the Cedar Hammock-Wares Creek flood control project, the renovation of the Riverwalk and upcoming enhancements to McKechnie Field. His goal was to finish the job he’s started, Poston said.

Barnebey, who’s been serving on the council since 1998, made her bid for mayor in April emphasizing that Bradenton deserves a mayor who listens and respects them, and that she was just that candidate. At forums and debates, Barnebey said she’s worked to make sure downtown Bradenton got redeveloped in a family-friendly, “appropriate fashion.” Bradenton has never had a woman run for or be elected mayor, she noted, and the same two men have led the city the past 33 years.

O’Brien caught the city’s attention in June when he stepped out of his London-built red double-decker bus to formally say he was running for mayor. The former chairman of the Manatee County Democratic Party made his announcement right in front of City Hall.

Throughout the campaign, O’Brien promoted his “Buy Bradenton, Buy Local” plan, which he said would boost the city’s economy by promoting locally-made products and businesses.

All candidates supported the relocation of City Hall and the police department headquarters from the waterfront to another part of the city. But the right financial offer from a developer has to come along, they said. The new $6.2 million Riverwalk was applauded by both Poston and Barnebey, but O’Brien challenged the price tag, calling it too costly.

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