MANATEE — County Commissioner Ron Getman is not running for re-election next year, but he is not sailing into retirement.
First elected in 2002, Getman, 65, announced Monday he would not seek a third term on the commission representing southern Manatee. He said he wants to build his at-home travel agency, which specializes in cruise vacations.
“It truly has been an honor and a privilege to have served,” Getman told reporters. “My interest is in serving this community, and I did that.”
Already, two candidates — Robin DiSabatino, a Republican, and Roger Galle, a Democrat — have filed for the District 4 seat.
Getman, a Republican, said the defeat of two incumbent commissioners last year, Jane von Hahmann and Amy Stein, did not influence his decision. Von Hahmann and Stein lost their seats when they were defeated in the GOP primary by two candidates, John Chappie and Larry Bustle, respectively, who were backed by several business interests.
The philosophical shift, especially on development matters, was perceived to have left Getman in the minority.
“It’s more pro-business, and his philosophy was government does it best,” said Commissioner Donna Hayes, a member of the majority bloc. “The commission has changed.”
Getman said the commission during his tenure has set standards for responsible growth. When he was chairman in 2002, the county government and local municipalities signed the “Accord,” which set a framework for how officials approach development issues with some uniformity.
“Ron was his own person, interested in doing the right things for the county,” said Commissioner Joe McClash. “He was a good steward, not a rubber stamp for developers, and I respected that.”
Getman said touted several ordinances he pushed, including measures banning panhandling, setting safety standards for ice cream vending trucks and restricting fireworks sales.
Most recently, the preservation of the Bayshore Gardens area captured Getman’s attention as residents there began to express concerns that properties in the neighborhood were not being kept up.
“He just conducted a great meeting for us,” said Suzanna Young, president of the Bayshore Gardens Neighborhood Association. “He really added impetus to what we are trying to do here.”
Another neighborhood activist, Whitfield Estates resident Norman Luppino, was particularly sensitive about Getman’s decision. Getman also resides in Whitfield Estates. “I hope whoever represents our district isn’t paid for by the developers,” said Luppino, a former county planner. “The commission needs better balance than it has right now.”
Getman’s final 16 months on the commission will put a cap on a 48-year public service career, including 33 years with the Florida Highway Patrol.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who next year is running for re-election to an at-large seat on the commission, said the board will miss Getman’s rapport with law enforcement.
“It was a real benefit to the county,” Whitmore said. “We need to keep that communication open.”
Getman said he will remain active in the community, including as president of the Gold Star Club of Manatee County, which provides rewards for information about serious crimes. He also will work to grow his 4-year-old travel agency, Getman Cruise & Travel.
Getman’s colleagues on the commission did not begrudge his decision to leave the board.
“As you get older, do you want to come in and do this every day?” Whitmore said. “After eight years, this is hard. He deserves a life.”
— Robert Napper contributed to this story.