MANATEE -- Qualifying for the Nov. 4 election expired Friday at noon, signaling the automatic elections of unopposed candidates and the beginning of the campaign season for contested races.
The three Manatee County Board of Commissioners seats up for elections this year are all being contested, with the largest group of candidates vying for the District 2 seat currently held by Democratic incumbent Michael Gallen.
Gallen, elected in 2010, faces two other Democrats in Corie Holmes and Charles
Smith, who is giving up his seat on the Palmetto City Commission to run. Only registered Democrats will be allowed to vote in the Aug. 26 primary since all of the candidates are Democrats and Troy Thomas declared himself as a write-in candidate for the general election Nov. 4.
According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, the primary would have been open to all voters but the presence of a write-in candidate closed it only to Democrats.
In District 4 there is a contest between two Republicans that will be decided in the August primary. Incumbent Robin DiSabatino, also elected in 2010, is being challenged by Timothy Norwood. The Supervisor of Elections Office reported that all registered voters can participate in the District 4 primary, which will decide the election.
In the District 6 race for an at-large seat, there will be no primary. Incumbent Republican Carol Whitmore is being challenged by Democrat Terri Kay Wonder in the general election.
In races for Manatee County seats in the Florida Legislature, state Sen. Bill Galvano and Reps. Jim Boyd and Greg Steube, all Republicans, were re-elected without opposition.
State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, will face a challenge in November from No Party Affiliation candidate Philip Garrett and write-in candidate Justin Bauford.
Manatee County School Board
All three Manatee County School Board seats up for election are being contested. School board elections are non-partisan and will be decided Aug. 26, unless a runoff is needed Nov. 4.
Rodney Jones and Charles Kennedy are running for the District 2 seat. Incumbent Barbara Harvey is not seeking re-election.
For the District 4 seat, incumbent Karen Carpenter faces a challenge from Frank Brunner, while the District 5 seat is the most contested with four candidates. They are incumbent Julie Aranibar and challengers Mary Cantrell, Carlton "Les" Nichols and James Golden.
The city of Bradenton
In the non-partisan Bradenton City Council races, only one of the three races is contested. Ward 3 incumbent Patrick Roff faces a challenge from political newcomer Paul Thomas. Ward 4 Councilman and current Vice Mayor Bemis Smith is unopposed and is automatically re-elected. Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown also retains his seat for a second term as an unopposed candidate.
The city of Palmetto
Three nonpartisan seats are up for grabs in the city of Palmetto's Board of Commissioners election. Long-time Ward 2 Commissioner Tambra Varnadore is unopposed and will retain her seat.
Harold Smith, the brother of Charles Smith who is giving up his Ward 1 seat to run for county commission, also is unopposed and will keep the Ward 1 seat in the family with an automatic victory.
In Ward 3, long-time incumbent Brian Williams is being challenged by Eric Gilbert and a latecomer to the race, John Geeslin, who filed his declaration on Wednesday.
The city of Anna Maria
One nonpartisan commission seat and the mayor's office are up for grabs in the city of Anna Maria. Incumbent Nancy Yetter on Nov. 4 will face off against two challengers, Charles "Chuck" Webb and David Bouchard.
Incumbent Mayor Suelynn faces a November challenge from Daniel Murphy.
The city of Bradenton Beach
Two nonpartisan seats on the Bradenton Beach Commission are up for reelection, but only one is being contested. Ward 2 Commissioner Ed Straight is unopposed and will continue to serve as commissioner.
Ward 4 Commissioner Jan Vosburgh is seeking a third term in office and faces a challenge from Tjet Martin, who is the long-time live-in girlfriend of Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon. The couple owns and operates the Linger Longer vacation resort. Martin currently serves on the city's advisory Scenic Waves Partnership Committee.
The city of Holmes Beach
Last-minute filings and qualifying have transformed the Holmes Beach Commission race. Mayor Carmel Monti announced he would not seek another term. Bob Johnson filed to run for the mayor's seat and remained the lone candidate, but at the last minute, long-time Commissioner David Zaccagnino filed to run. Zaccagnino's seat was not up for reelection this year, but he will have to leave the seat he has held for more than eight years to run for mayor. Win or lose, the city commission will be tasked to appoint a new commissioner to Zaccagnino's seat following the election.
Commissioner Marvin Grossman, ending his first term in office, was the lone candidate running up to deadline. Andy Sheridan filed at the last minute to challenge for one of the two seats up for reelection. Also running is Commission Chair Judy Titsworth, who also qualified at the last minute. The top two vote getters will win the election.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014