MANATEE — Bradenton voters who turned up at the polls Tuesday decided to maintain the status quo and elected the three incumbent city council members to new terms.
Only 14.26 percent, or 4,146 of the 23,072 eligible voters showing up to vote, in line with the 12 to 15 percent predicted by Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat.
The race in Ward 3 between incumbent Patrick Roff and political newcomer Richard O’Brien was the closest of the three.
Roff, who will be starting his second term, received 2,077 votes or 51.99 percent, while O’Brien received 48.01 percent with 1,918 votes.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race,” Roff said. “So many people were concerned about the issues.” Crime, 14th Street development and the economy were some of the issues raised in the campaign.
O’Brien offered his congratulations to Roff, and said he was proud of his campaign.
“With a quarter of the funds (as his opponent) and the number of volunteers and supporters,” he said, “shows the legitimacy of the issues of crime prevention and job creation.”
The other two races for city council were won by wider margins.
Incumbent Marianne Barnebey was elected to a fourth term, defeating newcomer Lori Melton 2,655-1,130 or almost 30 percentage points for the Ward 2 council seat.
“I feel very humble to have the citizens continue to show they have faith and trust in me,” Barnebey said. “That means a great deal to me.”
She said the wide margin also showed that she listened to the residents and was responsive to them.
Melton, who was at the Supervisor of Election’s office to watch the results come in, said she did not think she did too bad considering it was her first election bid.
“I started late and had no big endorsements,” she said. “I campaigned on $30 and a smile and got 30 percent of the vote. I don’t consider that a failure, I will try again but do more planning.”
In the Ward 4 race, incumbent Bemis Smith beat Joel Henry, a retiree who worked for the city for 31 years, 2,145-1,588 votes, about a 15 percent margin spread.
“I’m proud the citizens of Bradenton saw fit to re-elect me, especially during these tough times,” said Smith, who also was at the elections office to watch the votes come in.
He said it was the economy that was on most of the voters’ minds and not any specific local issue.
“People were focused on other things,” Smith said, “the economy, their jobs, working to pay the bills.”
Henry said he gave it his “best shot.”
“It was my first time and I learned a lot,” he said, “What not to do and what to do next time.”
As for running for office again, Henry said he would see what happens in four years.