The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 5 - November 16, 2016


Anna Maria City Commission will have one new face

Carol Whitmore

joe hendricks | SUN

Nancy Yetter spent most of Election Day
across the street from Roser Memorial
Community Church, the city’s only
polling location.

ANNA MARIA – It took a couple extra days for final results to be known, but when the dust settled on last week’s city elections incumbent City Commissioner Nancy Yetter was reelected to a third term and Brian Seymour was elected to his first.

The odd man out was multi-term Commissioner Chuck Webb, who finished third in a three-way race made more memorable by his last-minute filing of a challenge to the eligibility of more than 80 city voters.

Along with commissioners Carol Carter, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland, Yetter and Seymour will spend the next two years providing legislative direction to non-voting Mayor Dan Murphy, who ran unopposed and will serve a second two-year term as the city of Anna Maria’s highest ranking official.

When the final numbers were released Thursday night after the canvassing board reviewed the provisional ballots necessitated by Webb’s challenge, Seymour was the top vote-getter with 494 votes and 35.85 percent of the vote. Finishing a close second, Yetter received 493 votes and 35.78 percent of the vote. Webb’s long run as a city commissioner ended with 391 votes and 28.37 percent of the vote.

When the polls closed Tuesday night, Yetter had 486 votes, Seymour had 475 and Webb had 385.

Winners react

“I am very grateful to the residents of Anna Maria for reelecting me to serve a third term as city commissioner. To my campaign workers, thank you for all your dedication and hard work, especially my husband, Mike. You helped make the campaign fun and successful,” Yetter said on Friday.

“Some of the issues I want to help solve during my next term include completion of the City Pier Park, solving the drainage issues facing our residents and parking and traffic congestion solutions. I look forward to this opportunity, and I welcome any and all suggestions on how we can enhance life in Anna Maria,” she added.

“I’m really excited to serve the city of Anna Maria. I’m very humbled that the voters chose a first-time candidate to serve in office. It doesn’t happen that often, and I’m looking forward to learning from the existing members on the commission and moving the city forward,” Seymour said.

When asked what he will bring to the commission, Seymour said, “New ideas and trying to get the commission to focus on working on problems other than the vacation rentals. I think we need to focus on the needs of all the residents and property owners alike and work on flooding issues, the infrastructure of the city and things of that nature.”

In regard to Webb challenging voters, Seymour said, “I wish Chuck Webb the best in his endeavors and hopefully we can put this behind us and make a fresh start once I get sworn into office.”

Seymour spent part of Election Day outside the polling location and later headed down to Bortell’s to await the results with family and friends.

Webb did not provide comment on the election results other than to say he felt some sense of relief due to the time and effort it requires to serve as a commissioner. Commissioners are paid $400 a month for their services.

Yetter, Seymour and Murphy will be sworn in right before the Wednesday, Nov. 30, commission meeting that will take place at 6 p.m. and six days later than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday.


Webb challenges voters’ eligibility

ANNA MARIA – More than two dozen city voters arrived at the Roser Memorial Community Church on Election Day and were surprised to learn their voter eligibility was being challenged by city commissioner and commission candidate Chuck Webb.

They were then asked to fill out provisional ballots that would be subjected to canvassing board review before being counted.

After filling out her provisional ballot, Su-Ellyn Stern said, “How dare he question my right to vote? I have never been so happy to cast a vote for Brian Seymour.”

The list Webb submitted to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office on the eve of the election challenged the eligibility of 81 city voters and an additional 16 mail voters – votes cast during early voting or by mail ballot that had already been scanned could not be challenged.

Most of the challenged voters on Webb’s list were listed as vacation rental owners and/or property owners who did not have homestead exemptions, with Webb questioning their city residency and their eligibility to vote in Precinct 301.

The provisional ballot envelopes provided challenged voters the opportunity to submit written comments to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office and the canvasing board that met on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The canvassing board consisted of Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett, Circuit Court Judge Mark Singer and County Commissioner Larry Bustle. County Commissioner Carol Whitmore served as an alternate and Assistant Supervisor of Elections Scott Farrington provided additional input.

The review began with Singer referencing a 2016 Attorney General’s opinion that takes into account a property owner’s intent.

“You can register to vote in a place you don’t reside in as long as you intend to reside there,” he said.

Singer said the state does not provide a clear definition of residency and a property does not have to be homesteaded to be considered a legitimate voter’s address, which would prevent renters from voting.

Twenty-eight ballots were reviewed and all but three were accepted. The rejected ballots were cast by voters who were verified as no longer living in the city.

The accepted ballots were added to the initial election results and did not alter the outcome in terms of Seymour and Nancy Yetter winning commission seats and Webb losing his.

Voter reaction

None of the challenged voters attended the review, but their written comments were read aloud by Singer.

Leonard Hurbi and his wife, Threse, were challenged and his written comments said, “Like thousands of Floridians we have rented our residence while we spend time in the North to enjoy cooler weather. It appears Mr. Webb has challenged my registration solely because I legally rent my home and that I would be disinclined to vote for him. I intend to swear an affidavit against him.”

James Keith’s eligibility was challenged, and his wife, Holly, is an attorney. The couple provided Bennett’s office with proof they’ve lived with relatives in Anna Maria for more than a year. Her vote was not challenged, but Holly is contacting the state attorney’s office this week to inquire about filing election fraud charges against Webb. Among other things, she questions the last-minute filing that provided the elections office no time to contact challenged voters.

“Chuck Webb abused the system. There is no justification when somebody starts interfering with a presidential election. He had no basis for what he did, and we have to hold him accountable,” she said.

Kelly Smith and her husband, Michael, were challenged and she also inquired about pressing charges.

“I understand it is a first-degree misdemeanor to do this frivolously. We own our own home and have a homestead exemption that’s clearly visible in the public records. Mr. Webb should know that his daughter has been inside our home to babysit our children. I currently serve on the Home Sweet Home Committee. We have never rented our home as a vacation rental. I also plan to contact the Florida Bar,” she wrote.

Bennett said Webb’s listwould be sent to the state attorney’s office.

Before Thursday’s review, Webb rescinded his challenges of Larry and Karen Beach and Bob and Kathy Patten. On Election Day, Larry Beach questioned whether Webb was trying to exclude people from voting, and he noted that Karen headed the city committee that selected the cell tower artwork.

Bob Patten said, “We’ve been here for over two years, we’re homesteaded and we were instrumental in the City Pier Park plan. He knows me quite well.”

Webb response

After the review, Webb said this was an attempt to ensure that non-city residents did not vote in the city election, and he was not trying to tilt the results in his favor. He doesn’t feel his challenges were frivolous because they were supported by extensive research and documentation, and he was not aware of the attorney general’s opinion regarding voter intent when he filed his challenges.

“All the earlier cases and attorney general’s opinions said you have to be a resident. This just flies in the face of everything else I’ve read,” he said.


Chamber honors businesses, businessman

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Mike and Sheryl Soutwick, of AAA Payroll, won the
Small Business of the Year award;


HOLMES BEACH – Three businesses and one businessman were honored at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce installation banquet at Key Royale Club Monday, Nov. 7.

Island Real Estate Directory Larry Chatt was named the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island’s Businessperson of the Year for 2016.

Chatt thanked the Rotary Club, the audience and his family who backs him because, “I’m an overwhelmed workaholic who would live in a cave if it wasn’t for them.”

The plaque they presented praised him for his years of service in the Anna Maria Island business community. Chatt, in turn, had praise for Island Real Estate Founder Frank Davis for his leadership and help before Chatt took over.

Businesses of the Year

Following the dinner, former Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie swore in the Chamber board members before Chamber President Deb Wing and board members introduced the 17 small, medium and large Business of the Year finalists.

AAA Payroll, of Bradenton, was the Small Business of the Year; Sato Realty, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in Anna Maria, was the Medium Business of the Year; and Salon Salon, with shops in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria, was the Large Business of the Year.

Cortez honors veterans with fish fry



Cortez author Joe Crawford lent his uniform to the Cortez Cultural
Center for the Veteran’s Day picnic.

The Cortez Cultural Center honored the 66 Cortezians who fought for their country at the Tribute to Veterans, a free fish fry on Saturday afternoon.

Historic military uniforms that belonged to Cortez veterans were on display, along with the biographies and photographs of several Cortez veterans.

Relatives of the three surviving Cortez veterans who fought in World War II, Albert Few Jr., Cleve Adams and C.D. Adams, attended, although the veterans themselves, in their 90s, were unable to participate.

The center, 11655 Cortez Road W., is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit Facebook at Cortez Village Cultural Center.

Causeway committee protests poles and palms

BRADENTON – Members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee expressed their displeasure with two plans for the Causeway area.

One was a plan by FPL to move its power poles on the north side of the Causeway between Perico Preserve and the Anna Maria Island Bridge and remove large trees that are in the way.

“All the utility poles that are in the mangroves, DEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) said they cannot be there any more,” Ingrid McClellan, of Keep Manatee Beautiful, explained. “They’re going to put the new cement poles outside of the mangroves, but as close to the mangroves as they can.

“They have a permit from DOT (Florida Department of Transportation) to move forward. They’re going to pay to replace the trees that can’t be relocated and pay for new trees once the utility poles are in, but the trees can’t be taller than 25 feet.

“It will ruin the whole ambiance; it’s a beautiful entrance to the Island,” Mark Alderson, director of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Project, declared and made a motion to ask FPL to consider putting the lines underground in that area. The motion was approved.

Kingfish ramp

The second issue was a plan to replace muhly grass that was removed by the county at Kingfish ramp. The grass served as a buffer between the road and the parking area.

McClellan reported that she contacted county officials, who were unaware that the grass was a grant-funded project and it acted as a buffer. She said they offered to replace it with sabal palms and also planned to add a rail fence.

“They said a lot of the grass was dead and the palms would be easier to maintain,” McClellan said.

“The grass was beautiful,” Alderson protested.

“The sabal palms don’t do the job, and rail fencing won’t do it,” Jerry West, of the Holmes Beach beautification board, said and added that the tops are dead but “all you do is cut them down and they come back.”

“A fence is not a buffer and sabal plans aren’t really a buffer either,” Darryl Richard, of FDOT, said.

Members approved a motion to ask the county to replace the muhly grass.

Preserve report

Mike Elswick, of Manatee County, said the county is acquiring the Winston Tract, a mangrove swamp on the north side of the Causeway between Palma Sola Bay and Perico Bayou, as well as a connector parcel for Perico and Robinson preserves, which will allow for a trail between the two.

He said a boardwalk is planned for Ungarelli Preserve and a living shoreline project is planned off Palma Sola Boulevard near the Palma Sola Yacht Club.

Members agreed to draft a new letter of intent seeking an extension of the scenic highway to connect the Palma Sola and Bradenton Beach scenic highways. Currently the highway begins at 75th Street West in Bradenton and ends at East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach.

The extension would include Manatee Avenue from East Bay Drive to the Manatee County Public Beach, East Bay and Gulf drives from Manatee Avenue to the city limits of Bradenton Beach and Old Gulf Drive from Manatee Avenue to East Bay Drive.

Bridges, bikes and bollards

Members approved a revised letter to Manatee County asking that Palma Sola Boulevard be designated as a sharrow road for both drivers and cyclists to share.

McClellan reported the results of the most recent meeting of the AMI Bridge replacement Aesthetics Committee regarding design features for the new bridge. She said they decided on the sunshine infill panel railing with turtles decorating the piers and turtles, manatees and pelicans decorating the walls.

McClellan said the Florida Department of Transportation removed 60 tons of invasive plants from four areas on the Causeway that were being degraded by vehicles driving onto the shoreline edge.

Native plans were installed in these areas, which are on the north and south sides of the east end of the Anna Maria Island Bridge and by the Perico Island Bridge. She said bollards would protect them.

Art lovers flock to HB


Frank Perry, of Keeton’s Office and Art Supply,
was held hostage in the Art Guild’s jail. Ransom for Perry
and other hostages, brought in $400 for
the Guild’s scholarship fund.

According to co-chair Joyce Karp, the Holmes Beach Art Walk Friday was “a huge success. We were thrilled with the turnout. We didn’t know what to expect because we changed things up and made it two weekends.” Co-chair Joan Voyles added, “People were staying and enjoying themselves and were happy they didn’t have to rush (to get to Anna Maria, which is having its art walk this weekend). Karp thanked all the businesses that donated gifts for the raffle baskets, and Voyles thanked the musicians who “made it so much more special and unique.” Barb Jaeger, of The Egret’s Lading, said it was her first time participating, and “it was great. I hope the Anna Maria one is as good.”

Chappie happy to be ‘coming home’

joe hendricks | SUN

Commissioner-Elect John Chappie is looking
forward to his return to city hall.

BRADENTON BEACH – Former Mayor and City Commissioner John Chappie will return to the commission this month after spending the past eight years as a county commissioner.

During last week’s election, Chappie received 378 votes and 61.76 percent of the votes cast by Bradenton Beach voters. First-time candidate Bill Vincent ran an impressive campaign and received 234 votes and 38.24 percent of the votes.

Chappie will replace third-term Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and be sworn in at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21.

“It’s exciting,” Chappie said of this return to city government.

“One of my number one goals as a county commissioner was to not tell the cities what to do. Now I get to come back home and help find solutions to the major challenges we have with the party houses. I’m looking forward to discussing the recommendations coming from the Planning and Zoning Board,” he said.

“Enforcing the noise ordinance and parking is a large part of it. If there’s no enforcement, it’s just a piece of paper that means absolutely nothing,” he said

“Code enforcement also needs to be beefed up,” he added.

Chappie plans to meet with each of the county commissioners to stress the importance of encouraging state legislators to allow more resort tax dollars to be spent on city infrastructure and less on promoting tourism; and he was happy that voters county-wide approved the half-cent infrastructure sales tax.

“It’s not a whole lot of money, but it will help the Island communities,” he said.

In regard to cleaning up the anchorage, Chappie said, “We need to get law enforcement out there as soon as possible, and that needs to be budgeted line item.”

City Attorney Ricinda Perry worked with Chappie in the past, and she welcomes his return.

“John’s a hard worker who cares about the residents of this city, and I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the city commission,” she said.

Police Chief Sam Speciale said, “It’s about time Commissioner Chappie came back home. I worked with him in the past and it’s great to see him back. He knows our history, he will bring stability and I think the experience he got as a county commissioner will help our city.”

In December, the four seated commission members will appoint a Ward 2 resident to fill the commission seat vacated by Ed Straight. Marilyn Maro has expressed interest in the position and has attended almost every city meeting in the past few months.

Vincent to remain active

Although he was disappointed with the final results, Vincent remained proud of the campaign he and his supporters ran.

“It was a positive and pro-active campaign. I got a huge number of compliments saying we did good for the city and the process. It wasn’t adversarial and there wasn’t any animosity,” he said.

Vincent credited his wife, Rose, his sister, Carol Harrington, and her husband, Mik, for all the help they provided in laying the early groundwork for the campaign back in April and May.

“I am also extremely proud of a number of contributors that I got for my campaign. There was only one letter for the solicitation of funds and almost all of the contributions we got were unsolicited,” he said.

Although his bid for a commission seat fell short, Vincent has no plans to fade into the sunset. He has already applied for consideration as the residents’ representative on the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Committee and the appointment of two new CRA members is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Nov. 16. Vincent is already a member of the Scenic WAVES Committee.

County elections recap

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Island voters helped determine the outcome of two county commission races and two county referendums during last week’s elections.

Bradenton resident Stephen Jonsson won the District 3 County Commission race, defeating Holmes Beach resident David Zaccagnino and San Remo Shores resident Matt Bower.

County-wide, Jonsson received 16,396 votes and 46.3 percent of the votes cast. Bower received 11,290 votes, or 31.89 percent, and Zaccagnino received 7,718 votes, or 21.8 percent. Voter turnout in Manatee County for the general election was 78.8 percent.

Zaccagnino received the most votes on the Island, garnering 1,378 votes from the three Island cities, followed by Jonsson at 1,213 and Bower at 1,186.

“I am looking forward to working with all the people out on the Island and meeting all the mayors and the commissioners,” Jonsson said.

Jonsson has lived in Manatee County for 39 years and has spent a lot of time on the Island, but he plans to attend some of the city commission meetings in order to get a better feel for the needs of the Island communities he now represents. He also expressed interest in possibly hosting some town hall meetings to become better acquainted with the Island residents.

He cited transportation issues, fair distribution of the county resort tax and infrastructure sale tax and drainage improvements as some of the issues he would like to help address at the county level; and he recognizes that the majority of the resort tax revenues are generated on the Island.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I’m fairly bright, and I can help make the right decisions from the community standpoint and taxpayers’ standpoint. I am pro-business, and my campaign did receive funding from the business community, but I don’t mind saying no to them if what we’re discussing doesn’t make sense,” Jonsson said.

District 7

Incumbent Commissioner Betsy Benac retained her District 7 at-large seat. She received 105,115 votes and 64.8 percent of the vote, compared to 57,098 votes and 35.2 percent of the vote for her opponent, first-time candidate Jack Richardson. Benac also carried the Island vote by a 2,161 to 1,439 margin.

“I am so honored that the people of Manatee County have chosen to give me four more years to represent them on the Board of County Commissioners,” she said.

Half-cent tax

County voters approved the new half-cent infrastructure surtax that will help fund infrastructure projects county-wide with 98,687 votes, or 56.83 percent, in favor of the sales tax increase and 74,987 votes, or 43.17 percent, against it. Island voters supported the half-cent tax by a 2,016 to 1,841 margin.

County voters also renewed the half-cent school tax by a 102,561, or 59.15 percent, to 70,817, or 40.85 percent, margin, with the voting majority in all three Island cities supporting the renewal.

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