Manatee County commissioners exit dais with grace, appreciation

November 17, 2012 

Manatee County bid farewell to a pair of Republican leaders this week during their last day as county commissioners. Joe McClash described his 22-year tenure on the board as "a great run." Donna Hayes considers her eight years on the commission a "real learning experience."

While the 70-year-old Hayes is heading into retirement, we expect the 55-year-old McClash to return to politics. As a voice for residents who often felt disenfranchised, he fought the good fight on many issues -- particularly growth and development.

Both McClash and Hayes expressed satisfaction for their commitment to the creation of new parks around the county, certainly a terrific legacy that many residents will enjoy for decades to come.

At their final board meeting Tuesday, Hayes also lauded the commission's shift toward a business- and customer-friendly approach to governance over the past few years. That, too, is much appreciated.

Commissioner John Chappie noted that this elected position is not easy but is about serving and giving back to the community. He thanked McClash and Hayes for their service, elaborating: "Because of it, I know Manatee County is a better community."

Indeed, the county has come a long way from the real estate market crash and recession with the economy on the mend thanks to policies adopted during their time on the board. We offer our thanks, too.

Now we await the contributions from the two new commissioners, Vanessa Baugh and Betsy Benac.

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