Cheers to the Manatee County voters who participated in our democracy by casting ballots this midterm election. Out of the 212,609 registered voters, 121,032 ballots were cast. Manatee's turnout bested the state average, 57 percent to 50 percent.
That statewide percentage barely edged figures from the most recent midterm elections, 49 percent in 2010 and 47 percent in 2006. Manatee County surpassed the state both years, with 54 percent four years ago and 50 percent eight years ago. We hope that streak continues.
Presidential elections garner greater interest with Florida's turnout at 70 percent or greater since 2000.
Bradenton City Council: Roff-Thomas
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Bradenton City Councilman Patrick Roff earned a well-deserved victory over political newcomer Paul Thomas as voters validated his efforts to improve the city. The Ward 3 incumbent's plan to revitalize the 14th Street West corridor dovetails with a city priority and would expand on his success in helping to organize the Historic Ware's Creek neighborhood and restore its lost luster.
Thomas earns plaudits for waging a shoe-leather, knock-on-doors campaign, an experience he doesn't plan to duplicate.
The 14th Street West corridor is the southern gateway into Bradenton and a pivotal part of the city's overall growth and economic development. We urge Roff to be aggressive in pursuing improvements.
Palmetto City Commission: Geeslin-Gilbert-Williams
Voters in Palmetto also showed faith in incumbent City Commissioner Brian Williams with his decisive win over John Geeslin and Eric Gilbert. In office since 1992, Williams has proven to be worthy of the public's trust as Palmetto continues to advance civic improvements and economic revitalization.
The city has made a lot of progress, and voters sent a signal to stay the course.
Anna Maria Island city commissions
The cities of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria opted for fresh faces for mayors as political newcomers were not handicapped by a lack of commission experience. At the same time, voters in both cities returned incumbent commissioners back onto the dais.
Both cities are struggling with the same issues -- the proliferation of vacation rental homes and parking issues.
In Holmes Beach, Bob Johnson won with a populist message about neighborhood preservation. He'll serve with Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman, both allies to Johnson's platform. Some of the 18 charter amendments address the issue, with one officially enshrining the 36-foot building height restriction and another restricting dwelling-unit density.
In Anna Maria, Daniel Murphy defeated Mayor SueLynn by a wide margin and incumbent commissioners Nancy Yetter and Charles "Chuck" Webb retain their seats. Murphy hopes to heal the city's political divisions, saying he stands in the middle of the no-growth vs. pro-growth factions. We wish him success.
In Bradenton Beach, incumbent Ward 4 Commissioner Jan Vosburg won in a landslide over Tjet Martin, the longtime girlfriend of Mayor William Shearon.
The city is embroiled in controversy over the mayor's administration, with the commission adopting a resolution to set procedures for ousting a public official, with Shearon the target. That 3-2 vote, though, could have been reversed with a Martin victory. Voters did not deliver a vote of confidence in Shearon.
In the meantime, Vosburg vows to continue working to improve the low morale of city employees, a prudent plan given Bradenton Beach's troubled administration.