BRADENTON -- Wayne Poston clinched his fourth mayoral term Nov. 6, taking veteran Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey out of public office and shutting down Richard O'Brien's second attempt to hold office in the city.
"We are very pleased," Poston said as he celebrated at O'Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar in downtown Bradenton. "We think it's pretty close to a landslide."
Poston had 7,586 votes, or 39 percent; O'Brien finished second in the race with 32 percent of the votes, or 6,291; and Barnebey finished third with 28 percent, or 5,414.
In the primary elections, Bradenton voters decided to eliminate runoff elections. Poston was elected based on plurality, not a majority of the votes. He will be sworn into office in January.
"I would just say to Mr. Poston and Mr. O'Brien that they ran decent campaigns," said Barnebey, who served on the council since 1998. "The citizens have made their choice, and I respect them for it."
Barnebey said she was grateful to Bradenton for having let her serve for more than a decade and that she would now focus on the upcoming December community event that she founded and coordinated, Winter Wonderland. She did not know if she would run again for office.
O'Brien caught the city's attention in June when he stepped out of his London-built red double-decker bus to formally announce he was running for mayor. Throughout the campaign, O'Brien promoted his "Buy Bradenton, Buy Local" plan, which he said would boost the city's economy by promoting locally made products and businesses.
"I'm proud of the campaign we ran, we ran a good clean campaign," O'Brien said, adding that he hoped the city would incorporate his business ideas. "We were a little surprised," O'Brien said about the outcome. "We felt we had won every aspect of the campaign."
Poston's continuous message was that he was running on a "record of success." Under his administration, the city has moved forward with projects years in the making, he said, like the Cedar Hammock-Wares Creek flood control project, the renovation of the Riverwalk and upcoming enhancements to McKechnie Field. His goal is to finish the job he's started, Poston said.
"It was a good race, it was a positive race," Poston said. "I wish them (Barnebey, O'Brien) well, but they're not going to be the mayor."