BRADENTON -- Real estate agent Devon C. Davis filed to run for the Bradenton City Council on Thursday, seeking election to the Ward 1 seat being vacated at the end of 2016 by Gene Gallo, who announced his retirement in November.
Davis is the wife of former deputy chief Warren T. Merriman, who was fired from the Bradenton Police Department under suspicion of misdemeanor theft in January 2015. Merriman is currently awaiting trial that is scheduled for next month. Davis has appeared publicly at the city council to defend her husband.
Davis said it's an exciting time to run for political office considering so many national, state and local offices are on the Nov. 8 ballot. History shows, she said, that a large voter turnout is the perfect time for a candidate to get their message out to savvy voters who are paying attention during the larger election cycle.
"This is an environment where we have baby boomers who still dominate the majority of the political offices and we have the millennialls who are technology driven, especially in regards to social media, so it is a fine line in appealing to all voters," said Davis, who has a 24-year-old daughter. "I possess the ability to effectively communicate with the driver demographics that are in Ward 1. This specific office has been occupied by a longtime incumbent and during my preliminary interviews with the constituents, they want a representative that will continue to be available and receptive to their concerns."
Davis said her focus will be on Ward 1, but it won't stop there as she recognizes the importance of citywide issues. However, she said her priority in running for office is to bring her real estate expertise to play by attracting new and responsible businesses to empty storefronts on Manatee Avenue West and Cortez Road. Citywide goals include continued redevelopment of downtown Bradenton.
Davis said she understands the importance of bringing her prospective constituents' concerns to the dais and pledges that communication with citizens on a daily basis is a responsibility she takes seriously.
"I can assure Ward 1 constituents that I will always be accessible and they will receive a response in a timely manner," Davis said.
Davis said she will focus attention on government accountability, especially when it comes to public services.
"Residents want to feel safe from violent crime in their community and they deserve a quick and timely response to public works requests," she said. "There are more efficient and cost effective ways to further improve these services and I look forward to sharing my ideas to the general public during the campaign."
Davis is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Florida Realtors, Realtor Association of Sarastoa and Manatee, Certified Residential Specialist, Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. She is a volunteer mentor for Take Stock in Children and has been with the same student from seventh grade through her current sophomore year. She is a graduate of Manatee High School and Manatee Junior College (State College of Florida) and also attended Texas Tech University.
Thus far, Davis is the only candidate to file for Gallo's seat, which he has held since 1991 after decades of public service as a fireman and eventual fire chief.
"Even though I am unopposed at this point, I am going to run this campaign just as I would as if there were other candidates in this race," Davis said.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.