ANNA MARIA — New City of Anna Maria Commissioner Eugene E. Aubry took the oath of office this morning, officially replacing the recalled Harry Stoltzfus and ending one of the most contentious periods in the community's history.
City Clerk Alice Baird swore in Aubry, a 74-year-old architect who has lived on the island since 1986, at 9:06 a.m.
“I am honored to be here, and thank you all very much,” Aubry told the crowd of about 30 people at council chambers.
Anna Maria voters recalled Stoltzfus — it was the first recall election in Manatee County history — on Sept. 7 by a 31-vote margin. Aubry then defeated Stoltzfus 363-333 in an election for the vacated seat.
A recall petition drive was initiated in April after resident Bob Carter read about e-mails Stoltzfus sent to several residents discussing commercial development along Pine Avenue. The petition statement accused Stoltzfus, a business owner from Pennsylvania, of violating the Government In The Sunshine Law, which requires transparency in government decisions, and said his e-mails contained libelous and inflammatory remarks.
A legal battle ensued, and Stoltzfus failed in an attempt to have the recall election stopped. But Manatee Circuit Court Judge Ed Nicholas ordered the results sealed pending an appeal. His decision was overturned by the state’s Second District Court of Appeal, and the results were certified Monday, clearing the way for Aubry’s swearing-in.
Aubry will serve the remainder of Stoltzfus’ term, which runs through November 2011. Aubry said he does not plan to seek re-election.