MANATEE -- John Chappie has withdrawn his name for re-election to the District 3 seat on the Manatee County Commission.
The Republican, who was running for a third term, withdrew his name from the 2016 election Monday afternoon.
"I've been in public office for the last 20 years, the last 7 1/2 on the Manatee Board of County Commissioners," Chappie said in a statement. "It's been a wonderful experience and I want to thank my family, friends and supporters. After careful consideration, it's simply time to go in a different direction and I look forward to the future."
Chappie could not be reached for further comment Monday.
Chappie, who is the commission's vice chairman, has received $38,965 in election contributions to date. District 3 covers West Bradenton and Anna Maria Island.
Before being elected to the
county commission in 2008, Chappie was mayor of Bradenton Beach.
Chappie served as the mayor from 2001-07 and served as a city commissioner from 1997-2001 and 2007-08, according to the county's website. A park in Bradenton Beach was named after Chappie in 2011.
Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who was Holmes Beach mayor and city commissioner during the same time as Chappie, said "it's going to be a big loss for District 3."
"I was surprised and sad for District 3 because John represented his district better than anyone that I can recall," said Whitmore, who lives in Holmes Beach.
As a county commissioner, Chappie attended city commission meetings in the cities he represented, Whitmore said. Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria and parts of Bradenton and Longboat Key are all in District 3.
"He always stood up to bat for his constituents," Whitmore said. "He is a good, honest man and he will be missed on the dais."
Whitmore recalled when Chappie and Bradenton Beach dedicated a bench on Bridge Street in her name for helping the city.
"I was very touched," Whitmore said. "He didn't have to do that, but that's his way of thanking the county for helping in Bradenton Beach."
Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Baugh said she hopes Chappie may change his mind.
"John is a great asset to this board and he will truly, truly be missed," Baugh said. "The citizens of Manatee County will miss him because he just contributes so much. It's a huge loss. Whoever takes his place will have mighty big shoes to fill."
With all of Chappie's knowledge of the county, Baugh said she doesn't think Chappie "realizes how important he has been to Manatee County as a whole."
"You just can't replace him," Baugh said.
Chappie's decision means the commission next year will have at least two new members. District 1 Commissioner Larry Bustle, who was elected for the first time along with Chappie in 2008, also withdrew after first filing for re-election.
One other candidate has filed for the District 3 seat. Matthew Bower, who has served on the Manatee County Planning Commission for two years, filed as a candidate with No Party Affiliation.
When asked Monday whether he would consider a run for the District 3 commission seat, Joe McClash, former at-large county commissioner for 22 years, said he "probably couldn't give an answer."
"It's something I have considered in the past, but Matt Bower got in the race and it seems that he would make a good county commissioner," McClash said. "I just have to evaluate whether it would be the right decision. I have to consider whether it would be worthwhile to enter the race."
McClash said he thinks Bower is a qualified person, someone he worked with on opposition to the proposed Long Bar Pointe development.
"I think Matt Bower getting into the race, if he continues to be a viable candidate and gets his signatures, I think we need to encourage good people that have community concerns as their priority and not the developers," McClash said.
David Zaccagnino, a financial adviser who served as a Holmes Beach city commissioner for nine years, said he does not have plans to run for county commission at this time.
"It's going to be a loss for Manatee County," Zaccagnino said of Chappie's withdrawal from the race.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.