The Herald Editorial Board recommends the following candidates in the Nov. 4 election. Our complete endorsement editorials can be found online at www.bradenton.com/endorsements.
Early voting begins in Manatee County on Saturday.
The Herald and Manatee Educational Television produced videos in three contests -- for U.S. House District 16, Manatee County Commission At-Large and Manatee County School Board. Those can be found online attached to those particular endorsements.
Coming Saturday: Capsules of our amendment recommendations.
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U.S. House District 16: Vern Buchanan
A conservative Republican in Congress, Rep. Vern Buchanan sometimes bucks his party's position in favor of bipartisan solutions to the nation's challenges. In this ongoing polarized political environment and partisan rancor, unity on problem-solving remains a formidable goal. We once again challenge him to continue to make good on his bipartisanship pledge.
During his current term, Buchanan achieved success with bipartisan passage of bills on three issues with major impacts on Congressional District 16. One eased the spike in national flood insurance premiums; another provided unprecedented funding for research into the deadly citrus greening disease; and the third forced changes in veterans' health care in the wake of a national scandal over lengthy waits for medical appointments.
He champions pro-growth, free-market policies to stimulate business development and also make American companies more competitive globally. His pro-business agenda, lengthy experience as an employer and sound platform stand out in this contest.
U.S. House District 17: Tom Rooney
Republican incumbent Tom Rooney's district is one of the largest agricultural regions in the country, with dairy, citrus, beef, fruit and vegetable farms.
He has been a strong ally of the agriculture industry, fighting excessive government regulation and red tape with bipartisan support. Rooney advocates for another major constituency in his district: veterans and the military.
Rooney also has a history of accessibility and constituent service. Along with his policy positions that favor his district, he has earned another term.
Manatee Commission: Carol Whitmore
Incumbent Commissioner Carol Whitmore has a deep understanding of the local political landscape that comes from her years not just as an elected official, but as a community activist and health care advocate.
She comprehends the delicate balance between the law, smart growth and economic development vs. environmental protection, neighborhood issues and our quality of life.
Whitmore has the experience to govern in a sound and sensible manner -- as she has demonstrated time and time again in two terms holding the District 6 At-Large commission seat. Her volunteerism in the community stands out as a model for others, reflecting her dedication to the health and welfare of county residents.
Manatee County School Board: Mary Cantrell
Mary Cantrell served as the director of Manatee Technical Institute during its rise to national prominence as a center of innovation and educational excellence. With her 18 years at the helm of MTI, Cantrell would add an administrator's background and viewpoints to the board. Plus, with a Ph.D. in vocational curriculum, her expertise on education issues is unmatched.
Bradenton City Council: Patrick Roff
Patrick Roff has proven time and time again to be an ardent promoter of the city of Bradenton and progress in economic and neighborhood revitalization. As the incumbent Ward 3 city council member, Roff has established a strong record of community service with numerous appointments to civic endeavors and boards.
He co-founded the Historic Ware's Creek Neighborhood Association before joining the city council. Today, he has set his sights on another neighborhood in need of revival, the one directly west of 14th Street West, as well as Village of the Arts, east of 14th. Removing blight, increasing property values and decreasing crime are essential for progress.
Palmetto City Commission: Brian Williams
The city of Palmetto continues a remarkable string of civic improvements and economic development gains over the past few years, and the trend shows no signs of slowing.
As a city commissioner since 1992, Brian Williams seeks to continue serving Ward 3. He has played a role in the city's resurgence. And with the implementation of a new downtown core development plan after four years of work, this comprehensive strategy holds greater promise for the city. Commissioners deserve credit for pressing ahead with a more aggressive agenda than in the past.
Florida governor: Rick Scott
The debates between current Gov. Rick Scott and past Gov. Charlie Crist have captured the sour atmosphere surrounding Florida's gubernatorial contest. Civility has been a stranger in the candidates' campaigns. This has become a case of which candidate carries the least amount of political baggage. Both have flaws, as borne out by polling data that shows deep voter dissatisfaction with both Scott and Crist.
Scott, a Republican and a political novice four years ago, captured the Governor's Mansion by investing $75 million of his own money into an anti-Obamacare and anti-immigration reform campaign that saturated the airwaves. To his credit, he's become more moderate in his policies.
The self-proclaimed jobs governor, Scott may be best known for his dedication to the recruitment of out-of-state corporations -- a relentless pursuit. He's also been successful in increasing tourism.
Agriculture Commissioner: Adam Putnam
After two terms in the Florida House and 10 years in Congress, Adam Putnam became agriculture commissioner in 2011. The Republican hails from a family-operated citrus growing business. With such a strong political and agricultural background, he has served Florida well over the past four years.
One of Putnam's priorities is increasing economic opportunities and prosperity. During his term, exports of Florida agricultural products have grown by almost $1 billion, a 30 percent increase, with around 25,000 new jobs being created.
State Attorney General: George Sheldon
A former state legislator, assistant attorney general and secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, George Sheldon's resume features deep and successful experience in public office. He pledges to be the people's lawyer, eschewing the partisanship that the current attorney general, Pam Bondi, has pursued in several high-profile legal cases.
Sheldon is a staunch supporter of open government -- in contrast to the Scott administration's lip service to transparency.
Sheldon vows to be an aggressive consumer advocate, most importantly by challenging utility company rate filings that come before the Public Service Commission. Sheldon would resume tough enforcement of laws against predatory lending, deceptive business practices and antitrust transgression -- which, he says, have declined since 2011.
Chief Financial Officer: Jeff Atwater
During his first term as Florida's CFO, Jeff Atwater successfully pursued greater transparency in the state budget and state contracting. By launching a website that outlines thousands of those contracts, the former state Senate president allowed Floridians to hold legislators accountable since more than two-thirds of the state budget consists of contracts with private vendors.
In addition, Atwater created a training program for state contract managers so those documents contain clearer language for the protection of taxpayers.
With oversight on state investments. Atwater created a committee to limit risk and grow interest income, earning a return of $1.2 billion since 2011.
His vigilant pursuit of all manner of policies that protect consumers and ensure the wise use of taxpayer money has proven successful, too.