Ready or not, the 2018 election cycle is underway and two of the three Bradenton City Council seats are already being challenged.
Cornelia Winn, 29, on the day she was appointed to the nuisance abatement board, announced she will file papers next week with the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office in a bid to unseat incumbent Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff. Council candidates must live in the wards they are seeking a seat to represent, but it’s a citywide election.
Roff, elected in 2005, has not yet filed, but confirmed Wednesday he will seek reelection in the November nonpartisan city elections. Roff, who served as vice mayor in 2017 and was appointed Wednesday as the chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency board, and recently receiving his Florida Redevelopment Association certification, declined to comment at this time.
Winn said she is running for several reasons, but had nothing negative to say about the seated councilman.
“Local politics are really important and don’t get enough credit in how it affects our lives,” Winn said. “Everyone wants to focus on the national politics and I hear everyone say that it’s just for the rich and that their vote doesn’t matter. With the technology we have in being able to communicate and how easy it is to get information, I think more than ever it’s easy to be involved. Unfortunately, I don’t think the city is set up in the same way and I don’t see our officials making the effort to extend that communication and get the people more involved.”
Winn has lived in Manatee County for some time and recently moved a few blocks away into Ward 3. She’s always considered herself “from Bradenton,” but said there is a difference in how easy it was to get her Manatee County home established as opposed to how difficult it has been doing the same in the city. She would like to streamline efficiency in the permitting process and believes her background in Information Technology for Progressive Insurance will help the city move forward in those key areas.
“I’m basically a database administrator,” she said. “I make sure our sales people can communicate with our clients and that’s a big shortcoming in the city right now. The citizens are our clients and we have to communicate better.”
I think I have fresh and different ideas and I’m going to say, look, here’s an option and you decide.
Ward 3 City Council candidate Cornelia Winn
Winn was critical of the city’s existing website, which the city has been planning for some time to update. Winn said the city’s lack of social media presence also is not helpful, though the city is taking steps this year to improve that presence.
“How do people get notified? How are we communicating? People that are involved in a public meeting that live across the street from a project may know about it, but every project should be reaching every citizen,” she said.
“I’m not going to come in here and say I dislike the person in any seat,” Winn said. “It’s not that type of thing. I just think things are not getting done and seems really slow. I followed a city council race a few years ago and it’s the same people saying the same things and years later, there’s nothing different.”
The mother of a 3-year-old, Winn is engaged to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Being a young mother who likes to take her child to parks, Winn said it is another important focus for her.
“The key to making good parks is making the community have ownership in them,” she said. “Get them involved in the decision-making process and we’ll have a better and safer community. I go to parks now and often it’s me and maybe some homeless guy bathing in the water. There are so many talented people in Bradenton and we need to make better use of that.”
Winn said her campaign will stick to the issues as time moves forward to election day.
“I’m not a politician type person,” Winn said. “You won’t see me at a meeting with a ton of hair spray holding up huge hair with a fake smile. I’m not going to smear anyone. I think I have fresh and different ideas and I’m going to say, look, here’s an option and you decide.”
Ward 4 City Councilman Bemis Smith is being challenged by Eleuterio Salazar Jr., who filed early on in April 2017. He has yet to raise any money and lost a 2016 mayoral bid to Mayor Wayne Poston in a field of three candidates. Ward 2 Councilman Gene Brown also is up for reelection and remains unchallenged. For more information on Winn, corneliawinn.com.