Politics & Government

Former Florida Rep. Ron Reagan announces run for Manatee County Commission

MANATEE -- Former Florida state Rep. Ron Reagan announced Monday that he will run for the District 1 Manatee County Commission seat currently held by Larry Bustle.

The announcement comes just five days after Bustle, 80, announced he would withdraw from a re-election campaign, choosing to finish his current term and then retire to spend time with family and friends. Bustle recently made his return to commission meetings by participating via phone after he suffered a stroke May 11.

Reagan said he would have never run against Bustle for the seat.

"I think the world of Commissioner Bustle," Reagan said.

Reagan, who was state representative for Manatee County from 2002 to 2010, represented a section of the county encompassed by District 1, he said. District 1 covers Parrish and north county.

"I enjoyed when I was a state representative serving our community," Reagan said Monday. "I am looking forward to getting back and working with our community. ... I believe because of some of the contacts I have made over the years being in the Legislature will enable me to work hand in hand both on the state level as well as the local level."

While Reagan, an insurance executive, hasn't officially filed, he said he intends to file by the end of the week.

Reagan has two competitors as of Monday for the District 1 seat in the 2016 election: Corie Holmes and Nathaniel Leonard.

Holmes, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully against Commissioner Charles Smith in 2014 for the District 2 seat as a Democrat. Leonard, a Republican, lost against Bustle in the 2012 GOP primary.

As of Monday, Bustle was still listed as an active candidate on the county Supervisor of Elections website.

Reagan and his wife, Lynn, currently live in Braden Woods, which is located between Linger Lodge Road and State Road 70 in East Manatee.

But Reagan said they've been looking for homes in the Parrish area for a number of months to downsize.

"It was always our intention to go to the Parrish area where a lot of new growth, great people and a wonderful community," Reagan said, adding that running for commission will expedite that move.

Growth is the No. 1 issue Reagan said when he was asked why he wanted to run for commission.

"We know that growth is coming especially in District 1," he said. "I want to help maintain that growth is done on a smart, proper basis."

Reagan said Port Manatee is also located within District 1, which he looks forward working with.

"I think it a great economic driver for Manatee County," he said.

Reagan added that he wants to work with the Manatee County School Board because as growth comes to the area, there will be a need for more schools.

Reagan said he was approached by community leaders, including elected officials and businessmen to run for the seat.

"I am very excited about that as well," Reagan said of the support he's received.

Reagan attended State College of Florida and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in business. He has lived in Manatee County for 41 years and is married with three children and seven grandchildren.

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

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