Elections

Seventh candidate files for District 1 Manatee County Commission seat in 2016

Manatee County Agriculturalist of the Year Priscilla Trace, of Ellenton Nursery Growers, talks with John M. Stevely, sea grant extension agent for Manatee County from 1979-2014, during the Farm City luncheon Thursday at the Palmetto Woman's Club. Stevely was inducted into the Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame during the luncheon. 
 GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald
Manatee County Agriculturalist of the Year Priscilla Trace, of Ellenton Nursery Growers, talks with John M. Stevely, sea grant extension agent for Manatee County from 1979-2014, during the Farm City luncheon Thursday at the Palmetto Woman's Club. Stevely was inducted into the Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame during the luncheon. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald gjefferies@bradenton.com

MANATEE -- The 2015 Manatee County Agriculturalist of the Year has filed to run for the District 1 seat on the Manatee County Commission.

Parrish resident Priscilla Trace, a Republican, filed for the seat Monday. Trace, who along with her husband and son, developed Ellenton Nursery Growers, is the seventh candidate to file for the seat.

"It is something I've thought about for quite awhile," Trace, 58, said Monday, adding that she's at a time now where she can run. "I want to maintain our quality of life. It is a great place to live. ...I'm very excited about running."

As an agriculturist and someone involved in business, Trace said she has a "nice understanding of both agriculture and growth." Trace added that she knows the district north of the river.

"I just know a lot of people and am very friendly and open to suggestions," said Trace, who is a lifelong Manatee County resident. "I talk to people. I listen to people."

Talking to people, Trace said traffic is a huge issue along with growth and infrastructure.

"They want to preserve our rural aspects in ag," she said. "I think we've had good commissioners and good leadership and I just want to do my part and try to make them better."

The District 1 commissioner represents Palmetto, Parrish, Duette, Terra Ceia, Rubonia, Palm View, Gillette and parts of Myakka City.

All but one of the candidates in the District 1 race are Republicans. Michael Hillesheim, a former county employee, is a write-in candidate.

The other Republican candidates are: Palmetto City Commissioner Jonathan Davis; Corie Holmes, former Manatee County sheriff's deputy and a former Democrat; Sheri Clinard, former co-owner of the Lucky Dog restaurant in downtown Bradenton; former state Rep. Ron Reagan; and Parrish resident Dustin Schaal.

Since a non-Republican candidate is running, it forces a November general election to decide the race. The primary is in August.

Larry Bustle, a Republican who serves as District 1 commissioner, withdrew his name from the 2016 election in September.

Nathaniel Leonard, a Parrish resident, withdrew his name in December and endorsed Davis.

Three other Manatee County Commission seats are up for re-election:

District 3, which represents West Bradenton and Anna Maria Island, held by John Chappie, who has filed for re-election.

District 5, which represents Lakewood Ranch, Myakka City and other parts of East Manatee, held by Vanessa Baugh, who has filed for re-election. Challengers Tom Batchelor and Kathleen Grant have also filed.

District 7, an at-large seat held by Betsy Benac, who has announced plans to run for re-election but has yet to file. Challenger Candace Luther has filed for the seat.

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

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