Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac named Elected Official of the Year by planning association

MANATEE -- Manatee County Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac has been named the Florida Planning and Zoning Association Elected Official of the Year.

The nonprofit organization, which represents public and private sector planners, members of planning and zoning boards and other professionals in Florida, awarded Benac with the honor on June 12 at the association's 63rd Annual Conference.

"I'm very honored to be recognized by my peers by this award," Benac said in a news release. "The FPZA has been a longtime advocacy group for good planning in Florida, so it means a lot to me."

Before being elected to the county commission in 2012, Benac was a planner in both the private sector and for Manatee County government.

The association gives the award every year to a "local, state or federal elected official who champions sound planning practices and accomplishes positive gains in areas of smart growth, environmental preservation, sustainable development or equity planning."

"I have had the pleasure of working with Betsy as a colleague, mentee and friend at various times over the past 10 years," Courtney Mendez, FPZA president and senior planner for the city of Sarasota, said in the news release. "Betsy has also been a longtime supporter of FPZA and our missions of education, cooperation and engagement regarding planning and zoning matters. As a commissioner, she brings tremendous understanding of planning, zoning and development issues to the table, as well as a dedication to community and service to which we should all aspire."

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.