Bradenton Beach mayoral race tied; all 3 Anna Maria commissioners keep seats

Joyce Kramer, 73, stands with a sign supporting ousted Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon on Election Day. 
 AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald
Joyce Kramer, 73, stands with a sign supporting ousted Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon on Election Day. AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Election Day was busy Tuesday on Anna Maria Island with three Anna Maria incumbent commissioners re-elected and a recount called in the race between Bradenton Beach Mayor Jack Clarke and ousted mayor William Shearon, who tied with 195 votes each.

According to early unofficial election night results on the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website, Clarke received 194 votes, one less than Shearon's 195.

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett, however, said one valid provisional ballot came in late Tuesday night, which resulted in a tie.

"There will be a recount tomorrow at my office at 1:30 p.m.," Bennett told the Herald Tuesday night. "If that ends up into a dead tie again, then the tie will be broken by flipping a coin, rolling the dice. ... There are several ways we can do it, but we will probably do it by cutting cards."

Bennett said the candidates would get a deck of cards and whoever cuts the high card out of the deck will win.

Before the tie, Mayor Clarke announced the recount news at Island Time Bar and Grill, 111 Gulf Dr. S., Bradenton Beach, before a crowd of supporters.

"This can only happen in Bradenton Beach," the 71-year-old Clarke said. "By law, there will be a recount, which will not take place until tomorrow. ... So, have a drink, enjoy yourselves, have a bite to eat and thank you all for coming."

The crowd cheered for Clarke, who was quickly embraced by his wife, Karen Clarke.

"That's the election process," Shearon said when reached by phone Tuesday night. "They emphasize that every vote counts. One vote is one vote and that's the reason why it's important that everybody exercises their right to vote."

Tensions ran high between Clarke and Shearon in the weeks leading up to Election Day echoing the results of an earlier tight recall vote. On May 19, the men ran against one another in a special recall election that resulted in Clarke becoming mayor-elect after tallying 13 more votes than Shearon.

Early Tuesday evening, Joyce Kramer stood a block from the Bradenton Beach polling station on Second Street with a poster board in her hand: "Elect William "Bill" Shearon." A helium balloon coated in the U.S. flag hovered above her head.

Though Kramer moved out of Bradenton Beach several months ago, the 73-year-old said she still supports Shearon.

"I think the way he was basically railroaded out of office was a travesty," she said. "I voted to retain him."

Kramer remains plugged into the politics of Bradenton Beach.

"I feel that the people here are not heard, they're not listened to any longer -- they have no input, they have no voice, particular on this issue of the moratorium, to take a time period to look at what's actually going on in the city and look at development," she said.

Bob Connors, 68, stood nearby Kramer.

"I'm concerned about what's going on in Bradenton Beach and I've been aware of things that have been happening in the last several months," the Bradenton Beach resident said. "I'm just playing a role in trying to keep the big developers from taking over the whole community with big, oversized homes and inundating the residential neighborhoods and making it very uncomfortable for permanent residents in terms of noise, in terms of people and traffic and all those things."

In other races, Bradenton Beach Ward 3 Commissioner Janie Robertson lost against longtime Bradenton Beach resident and businessman Ralph L. Cole. Neither Robertson nor Cole returned calls for comment as of press time.

In the city of Anna Maria, incumbent commissioners Carol Carter, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland were able to keep their seats, beating out newcomers John Damato and Penelope Naylor.

"I'm thrilled to be re-elected to the commission and I feel like I've been endorsed by the residents of the city of Anna Maria and those are the people I want to represent," the 68-year-old Carter said. "I'm grateful to my volunteers for helping me get re-elected."

Reached by phone Tuesday might, Anna Maria Commissioner Doug Copeland said he appreciated residents' votes of confidence.

"I'm very excited to serve the citizens of Anna Maria for another two years," the 69-year-old said.

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

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