Bradenton Beach Commission moves step closer to ousting mayor

BRADENTON BEACH -- After more than three hours of public comment, discussion and back-and-forth between city commissioners, one small step was made Monday to remove Mayor William Shearon from office.

The city commission voted 3-2 to establish a procedure to oust the mayor through a resolution rather than an ordinance. There is no process in place for forefeiture of a Bradenton Beach office.

Commissioners Jan Vosburgh, Edward Straight and Vice Mayor Jack Clarke voted for a resolution, while Commissioner Janie Robertson and Shearon voted against it.

On Sept. 16, Clarke presented a complaint against Shearon, saying his trust in the city's head "has eroded over the past 300 days as I have seen nothing but failures, disrespect, outbursts, and problems." He said some of the mayor's failures include city staffing issues, mismanagement of the replacement of city computer systems and lack of transparency.

Shearon and others have accused Clarke of pushing the issue to assume the mayorship for himself.

The commission plans to review the resolution line-by-line at the next regular city commission meeting at noon Oct. 16. Commissioners will vote later on whether to approve the new resolution.

It was standing room only at City Hall as members of the public gave their 2 cents on the tangled web of issues surrounding Shearon's administration.

Lee Ann Metz, a full-time Bradenton Beach resident, spoke of the suspicion Clarke is vying to become mayor, which he has repeatedly denied.

"The mayor is a people's choice and I am not aware of any activity by the mayor that even remotely suggests probable cause," she said. "You can't get rid of the mayor because you don't like his personality or for your own personal aspirations."

Carl Parks, who chairs the city Scenic/Waterfronts: Accessible, Viable, Ecological, Sustainable (Scenic/WAVES) Committee, accused some city officials of trying to stage a coup.

"Despite what Bill Shearon inherited, I feel he is doing the best job that can be expected, under some very difficult conditions," Parks said. "He is cleaning up a horrendous mess left by the previous mayor and commission."

Resident Betsy Sillars spoke about the code of conduct expected of city officials.

"I've attended several city commission meetings recently and I've found the mayor's conduct to be condescending, inappropriate, vengeful and, quite frankly, alarming," she said.

Sillars also described citizen conduct as appalling and shameful, and she then called out Shearon's live-in girlfriend, Tjet Martin, who is a commission candidate running against Vosburgh.

"Is there any concern about possible Sunshine violations if she is elected? Is the public concerned that this is a conflict of interest?" Sillars asked.

Martin looked down at her phone.

Sillars described Vosburgh as conscientious, caring and dedicated. The commissioner appeared emotional as Sillars spoke about harassment Vosburgh has received from other citizens.

Angela Rodocker, co-owner and manager of the BridgeWalk Resort in Bradenton Beach, compared Bradenton Beach to a company. She told Shearon his company is "sick" and failing. She said she's been listening to issues for months -- and not just from one department.

"As hard as you try, lawsuits won't bring respect and honor back to you when it's not initially given," she told Shearon.

Rodocker and her mother, Barbara Rodocker, asked Shearon to step down. The mayor did not respond.

For some time, commissioners discussed with City Attorney Ricinda Perry how to proceed.

Clarke said he has no desire to have this issue drag on until next spring.

The mayor pushed back against the sense of urgency. "With all due respect to everybody, this forfeiture is toward me so I object to the hurry-rush-rush," Shearon said. "That's up to this body to do, but I strongly oppose it."

Kate Irby, online reporter, contributed to this report.

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

Related stories from Bradenton Herald