Two new members to join the Manatee County Commission

skennedy@bradenton.comNovember 8, 2012 

MANATEE -- Tuesday's election will mean two new members on the Manatee County Commission.

Lakewood Ranch businesswoman Vanessa Baugh and Benderson Development Co. senior project planner Betsy Benac will join the board after wins during Tuesday's general election.

Although they both said that philosophically, things would remain much the same, they do hope for a couple of changes.

"I hope with two new members on the commission, we will perhaps look at things more in-depth," said Baugh, a Republican who will replace retiring Commissioner Donna Hayes.

"With Betsy and I being new on the commission, two new people having new thoughts, we'll try to think what's best for Manatee County as a whole and try to make the right decisions," said Baugh.

She also wants less bickering.

"People pay us to make decisions, and not to bicker," Baugh said. "Ul

timately, the most important thing (is) we must show respect to each other and respect our individual views; I am hoping we accomplish that. That is a change on the commission I'm hoping to see."

Benac said she thought there would be some differences, with new people joining the commission.

"I think having folks with a business background will make a difference. We both worked in small businesses previously," said Benac, a Republican who beat incumbent Commissioner Joe McClash in the Aug. 14 Republican primary. "I think it will have an impact on the board."

She noted that she had run on a "business-friendly" platform in order to create more economic opportunities.

"Certainly, I'll keep that in mind in every decision," Benac said. "We still have a lot of people out of work, we must make sure there are opportunities for people to move here, grow here, and provide jobs for our citizens."

The two join a board comprised of Chairman John Chappie and commissioners Robin DiSabatino, Larry Bustle, Michael Gallen and Carol Whitmore. Bustle, who won a bid for re-election Tuesday, is the board's first vice-chair.

"I think we're all business-friendly," said DiSabatino. "We all want the best for Manatee County and the economy."

Gallen agreed.

"I'm used to a female majority, since I grew up with two older sisters and currently have two daughters," said Gallen, referring to what will be a 4-3 majority of women on the board.

"I don't believe there will be a sea change in the board's philosophy. I know these are wise women, so I'm excited to work with them."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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