Roff elected vice mayor; Bradenton council honors Souders

BRADENTON -- Bradenton City Council unanimously elected Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff to a second term as vice mayor Wednesday during a brief regular meeting dedicated to the memory of late Fire Chief Mark Souders.

Roff will replace Ward 5 Councilman Harold Byrd Jr., who served as vice mayor in 2010. Council traditionally elects a new vice mayor during its first meeting of the new year.

Roff, who was elected to city council in 2006, served as vice mayor for the final three months of 2008 after Councilman Gene Gallo resigned his vice mayor position.

According to the city charter, the vice mayor may act as mayor in the mayor’s absence.

Roff’s was the only major item on council’s agenda in its first meeting since Souders’ death. A council workshop was cut short on Jan. 5 after Mayor Wayne Poston got word of Souders’ apparent heart attack.

Souders, 55, died later that morning at Blake Medical Center. He had served as fire chief for 14 years after a 20-year stint with Cedar Hammock Fire & Rescue.

On Wednesday, Souders’ chair on the dais next to Clerk Carl Callahan was left vacant. One of his old fire helmets and a glass vase with red and white carnations sat at the empty place.

Council members and city officials spoke about Souders and how much they appreciated the fire department’s full-honors funeral ceremony and the outpouring of support the city and department received.

“I will miss my brother,” city planner Tim Polk said.