BRADENTON -- Gene Brown won a three-way battle among political newcomers on Tuesday and became Bradenton's newly elected Ward 2 council member.
"I feel fortunate that Bradenton has decided to put me into office," said Brown. "I'm glad the citizens have decided to elect me and given me a chance to do things for the city of Bradenton."
Brown will finish Marianne Barnebey's remaining two term years. The council seat became vacant after Barnebey announced her bid for mayor; she had served on the council since 1998. Barnebey lost the mayoral race Tuesday to incumbent Wayne Poston.
Brown collected 9,700 votes, or almost 56 percent; George Mendez had 4,955 votes. or 28.6 percent in his favor; and Binnie Williams 2,669 votes, or 15.4 percent.
Taking advantage of the city's amenities, like McKechnie Field and the newly renovated Riverwalk, will help boost Bradenton's economy, said Brown, vice president and chief operating officer of Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory.
Mendez, a retired transit planner for Manatee County, tour guide at Port Manatee and owner of George's Disc Jockey Services, said during a Herald/Manatee Educational Television forum that he wasn't seeking to reinvent the wheel, and that he'd been serving "behind the scenes" for many years promoting downtown Bradenton.
"I'm not going to stop my involvement in the community," said Mendez, though he does not plan on running for office again.
Williams, a freelance writer, community activist and former business owner questioned the use of public land for private development. "It was what I expected," she said of the results. "And as long as there are some votes it means there are some people in the community who care as I do about the giveaway of public land."
Brown will be sworn into office in January.