In less than a week, Bradenton Beach voters will have to decide who they’d like to fill the Bradenton Beach Commission Ward 4 seat.
Will they want Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, or Pines Trailer Park resident William “Bill” Vincent?
Voters will also be faced with a referendum question on whether to adopt a residential building moratorium ordinance. Ordinance No. 16-464 would establish a six-month moratorium on the acceptance, review and issuance of building permit applications for all residential units in two of the city’s zoning districts that will contain more than four rooms that will be or can be used for bedrooms or sleeping areas. This would also apply to duplexes limited to two bedrooms. It would be the city’s way of addressing what’s been coined “party houses” — vacation rentals in residential areas that many residents say disturb the character of their neighborhoods.
This week both Chappie and Vincent reported their campaigns have been positive in the days leading up to Election Day. The candidates said their top priorities, should they win, will center on addressing the issue of vacation rentals in Bradenton Beach’s residential neighborhoods and working to establish a controlled anchorage in the waters by the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
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It’s important, I think, to have that personal touch. That’s what we’re there to do — have the honor to represent the constituents, the people that actually live in Bradenton Beach. To me, that’s important.
Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie
Abandoned, derelict boats have been a problem for many in Bradenton Beach for years.
Chappie, who filed to run in June, served as Bradenton Beach mayor from 2001-07 and several terms as vice mayor in 1997, 1999, 2000-01 and 2007-08, according to the Manatee County government website. He filed for the city commission, after earlier announcing he would not run for re-election to the county seat he has held for almost eight years.
Chappie said this week he’s on his second round of walking through the city and going door-to-door to talk to residents about their concerns.
“I think that makes a difference,” the 64-year-old Chappie said. “It’s important, I think, to have that personal touch. That’s what we’re there to do — have the honor to represent the constituents, the people that actually live in Bradenton Beach. To me, that’s important.”
Born and raised in Michigan, Vincent has been a resident of Bradenton Beach since 2007. He is a member of the city’s Scenic/Waterfronts: Accessible, Viable, Ecological, Sustainable (Scenic/WAVES) Committee and current president of the Pines Trailer Park Homeowners Association, Inc. Vincent is retired after working in executive management at two organizations in Michigan. He is married with two children.
Vincent said over the last year-and-a-half he has been attending Bradenton Beach Commission meetings and workshops.
“I come back into my community and report to my fellow citizens and friends and neighbors and explain what’s going on, try to bring some context or reasons to what I’m observing up there,” he said. “During the elections last year, friends and neighbors were asking me to consider running. By this spring, they were not asking me to consider it. They were insisting. It took about two months of a lot of soul-searching. I made my decision and I stuck with it and here we are.”
During the elections last year, friends and neighbors were asking me to consider running. By this spring, they were not asking me to consider it. They were insisting. It took about two months of a lot of soul-searching. I made my decision and I stuck with it and here we are.
William “Bill” Vincent, candidate for Bradenton Beach commission Ward 4 seat
According to Chappie, a big issue is getting the moratorium ordinance passed.
“We have these party houses that are popping up all over the place and destroying the residential character of Bradenton Beach,” he said. “I know our city, as the other cities, are struggling to recapture what was once ours.”
Vincent agreed that this was one of the city’s biggest issues. He noted that there are “a number of hot issues in this city.”
“The vacation rentals and party houses have completely dominated what was once a residential neighborhood. We don’t need any more studies or analyses,” he said. “We don’t have an anchorage and we don’t have a mooring field. ... What we have is an unregulated, unmanaged bunch of boats out there doing what they want to do.”