Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Recall to Decide Fate of One Manatee Mayor

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Recall to Decide Fate of One Manatee Mayor

Article excerpt

BRADENTON BEACH: Litany of complaints from vice mayor spurred petition

The voters who elected Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon, who is believed to be the first legally blind mayor in Florida, will have an opportunity to either recall him from office or confirm that he should complete his term.

Shearon has been under fire lately from critics who insist he has misused and mismanaged his office. Last fall, Vice Mayor Jack Clarke lodged a litany of complaints against Shearon, including causing poor morale at City Hall. Former city commissioner Peter Barreda later started a recall petition alleging Shearon committed Sunshine Law violations.

The petition needed signatures from 115 of the city's 763 voters for a recall election, Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett said today. His office verified 121 signatures.

Bennett notified Shearon last week that he had five days after those signatures were validated to decide whether to resign. That deadline is Wednesday.

Shearon confirmed today he has no intention of resigning.

Besides the recall question, the ballot will include candidates who qualify for the mayoral position -- in case it needs to be filled, Bennett said.

Shearon said he will be on the ballot as a candidate. "I'll be running to replace myself."

Shearon expects Clarke to run as well.

In what could be an odd twist, Bennett said, Shearon "could be recalled and win the election."

If that happens, Shearon would take the oath of office again and remain in office until the November election.

If he is recalled, Shearon said, he will be a candidate in November. "Win or lose, I'll run again."

The recall petition claims Shearon violated the state's public records law by communicating with commissioners with emails about pending litigation and special events permitting. Shearon denies any Sunshine Law violations and questions whether a recall petition should be the proper way for citizens to address such allegations.

Clarke's accusations against Shearon include: overspending on a computer system with a "mish-mash" of hardware and software; misusing city funds with "overtime payments, unscheduled pay raises and bonuses, extra hires, overruns on small projects and additional professional fees without detailed invoicing;" displaying "a complete lack of trust" in city staff and other elected officials; and causing overall poor morale. …

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