PALMETTO -- Palmetto voters decided a change wasn't necessary for the city's Ward 3, which includes much of the city's Manatee River waterfront to the north along 10th streets east and west, ending on the western edge of U.S. 301.
Incumbent City Commissioner Brian Williams held off challenges from John Geeslin and Eric Gilbert, who also lost an at-large race two years ago against current Vice Mayor Jonathan Davis.
Geeslin, in a surprising move just weeks before the election, threw his support behind Gilbert, stating he didn't want to split the votes in the goal of defeating Williams, who has held his seat at the dais since 1992. It still wasn't enough as Williams secured more than 45 percent of the overall vote. Gilbert had more than 31 percent and Geeslin still
grabbed 10 percent of the vote despite announcing he didn't want to win.
"The goal of my campaign was to let people know what the commission has accomplished and those things a commissioner needs to keep in mind that this is for the people to help the community progress in a way that doesn't make everyone think we are changing the whole town," said Williams. "You do that through strategic planning, smart spending and pursuing grants and we just need to keep on with the progress of moving forward in that direction."
Williams said he is thankful the voters have placed their trust in him.
"I want to say thank you for your confidence in retaining me to continue to do the job they expect of me," said Williams. "I'm always available to residents and not just in my ward. I will help anyone that I can possibly help."
Gilbert said it was a good race and that he hopes his campaign raised awareness of the issues important to Palmetto.
"I hope bringing those things to light will help the commission," he said. "I will definitely be looking at what I will run for next. I never give up."
Geeslin said he anticipated Tuesday's results and went so far as to send flowers to Williams three hours after the polls opened to congratualte him on his victory.
"I wasn't running against anyone," said Geeslin. "I was running for more open interaction between the governed and those doing the governing. I believe he's done a good job in his career and I'm happy for him."
Even though Geeslin publicly declared he didn't want to win, he was grateful for everyone who still voted for him.
"I appreciate anybody who voted whether they voted for me or anyone else," he said. "I appreciate anyone who got up and exercised their right to vote."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him Twitter @urbanmark2014.