The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 2 - November 11, 2015


Clarke decked by Shearon’s ace in the hole

Carol Whitmore

joe hendricks | sun

Bradenton Beach Mayor Jack Clarke, left, draws first and comes
up with the 10 of clubs in hopes of retaining the mayor’s seat.

BRADENTON BEACH - The Bradenton Beach mayor’s race came down to the luck of the draw, and lady luck was on former Mayor Bill Shearon’s side.

Because the mayor’s race between Shearon and incumbent Mayor Jack Clarke resulted in a 195-195 tie after the votes were tallied on election night, a recount took place Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the supervisor of elections office in Bradenton.

When the ballots were recounted the results remained unchanged. Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett cited state law and said the election would be “decided by lot,” which means decided by luck.

He produced an unopened deck of playing cards, explained which cards would outrank others, and said the candidate who drew the highest card would win the election.

After the cards were shuffled, Clarke, as the incumbent, cut the deck first and drew a 10 of clubs.

Shearon then cut the deck and drew an ace of clubs, completing an improbable political comeback after being removed from office in May.

Clarke reacts

After exiting Bennett’s open-ended conference room, Clarke was asked how he felt about the race being decided by a deck of cards.

He said he did not feel a particularly strong emotional reaction in regard to how the election was decided, but a few minutes later he did say, “There’s gotta be a better way.”

When asked if he would remain involved in politics, Clarke said, “I have no plans at this time.”

Speaking by phone later that day, Clarke said, “Would I have preferred to stay in, of course, but I was not defeated in the election. We had the same number of votes and I lost my positon due to the method in which tie-breakers are determined. I’m not bitter, I’m not resentful and that’s the law.”

When asked if he felt his opposition to a citizen-requested building moratorium impacted the election, Clarke said, “Absolutely, but I believe the quality of life ordinance is the better way to go; and I still feel pursuing a moratorium is going to open the city up to litigation.”

The ordinance Clarke referred to includes new vacation rental regulations and it was adopted the following night as the final agenda item for Clarke’s final meeting as mayor.

Shearon speaks

When addressing the media, Shearon said, “The voters voted and the man up above made the decision.”

He was asked about the recall and whether he planned to do things differently this time around.

“Definitely,” he said. “Now that this is past us we’ll all work together and we’ll be able to move forward without the disruptions that occurred in the last six months or so.”

Shearon said he hopes to work closer with the commission, including new commissioners Ralph Cole and Jake Spooner, and he feels he can work with city staff despite past differences.

During his campaign, Shearon said he would support a building moratorium on large vacation rental houses.

When asked if he felt the ongoing moratorium debate impacted the election, Shearon said, “I think the moratorium was a big issue. The commission chose not to proceed with the moratorium, which I thought was disappointing, and that’s the reason I took that stance.”

Shearon, Cole and Spooner will be sworn into office at 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16. Their first commission meeting will take place at noon on Thursday, Nov. 19.

History and suspense

When the ballots were being recounted, Bennett said neither he nor anyone on his staff knew of a previous election tie in Manatee County.

Before the cards were cut, there were a few moments of preliminary suspense regarding an uncounted ballot. The optical scanner had been programmed to only read votes that pertained to the mayor’s race and it kicked out the one ballot it could not read. The unread ballot was placed in a sealed envelope that sat unopened for a few minutes before City Attorney Ricinda Perry opened it and discovered it to be the only ballot cast that did not contain a vote in the mayor’s race; and at that point, the cards came out.

There was suspense on election night as well. The unofficial results first released by the elections office indicated Shearon had pulled out a 195-194 victory, but there was one provisional ballot filled out at the polling place that still required verification. About 45 minutes later, the provisional ballot was determined to be a legitimate vote for Clarke and the election was unofficially declared a tie.

Former First Lady passes away

ANNA MARIA ¬– Former Florida First Lady Rhea Chiles, 84, died Sunday at her Island home, surrounded by family.

She was preceded in death by her husband, former Florida Governor and Senator, Lawton Chiles, who died in 1998. They leave four children including son Ed, who owns three restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Ed Chiles said Monday the family was celebrating her life, and, of course, mourning her passing.

After her husband died, Rhea Chiles moved to Anna Maria Island and bought a former restaurant/lounge, turning it into The Studio at Gulf and Pine, in Anna Maria. She had the interior remodeled and it became popular for art displays, wedding receptions, meetings and other events that needed a home.

Rhea Chiles also got involved in the local art scene. Joan Voyles, the facilitator for Anna Maria Island Cultural Connections, said Rhea Chiles was one of the founders of that group.

“She made many, many contributions to the local art scene through The Studio at Gulf and Pine,” Voyles said. “That was the crown jewel where art could be displayed in a beautiful setting.”

Voyles said the former Florida First Lady had an interesting perception of how things were happening and she used humor to get her point across.

“When she opened The Studio, she said she had a vision that just grew,” Voyles said. “She seemed to be content with letting it evolve.”

In the early days, Rhea Chiles spent her time backing her husband's political career as a senator and as governor until he passed away in 1998.

“She helped his career while he was governor and when he died and she moved back to the Island, she said, ‘Now it’s my time,’” Voyles said. “She shared in the vision of this seven-mile-long Island where there were three art organizations, a community orchestra and chorus, the Island Players and all these groups of people involved in the arts. She wanted to be a part of that.”

Christine Galonopoulis, of The Anna Maria Island Art League, remembered Rhea Chiles as wonderful and graceful and always willing to help. She said Chiles always attended as many art openings as she could.

artsHOP weekend offers something for everyone

THE ISLAND – Come to the Island and soak up arts and culture at the 9th annual ArtsHOP weekend Friday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, 15, with activities and events for all ages in all three Island cities.

Events include artwalks, a play, an orchestra concert, an arts and crafts show, a farmer’s market, a turtle auction and a Taste of Bridge Street.

Friday, Nov. 13

During the Artwalk, artists will be present to talk about their work, and there will be refreshments, music and prizes. Those attending can get out a Passport to be filled out while visiting the various locations. Completed passports will be entered in a drawing to win prizes donated by local businesses and artists. Also Friday night during the Artwalk, glow sticks and light up jewelry will be for sale at The Feast in Holmes Beach and the Green Village “secret garden” deck on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.

The following galleries and shops will participate in the Artwalk in Anna Maria:

• Anna Maria General Store, 505 Pine Ave.;

• Joyce Lazarra Gallery, 507 A Pine Ave.;

• AMI Outfitters Coastal Gear and Apparel, 505 Pine Ave.;

• Libby’s on Pine Avenue, 501 Pine Ave.;

• Home Town Desserts, 507 B Pine Ave.;

• Tide and Moon Jewelry, 314 Pine Ave.;

• Emerson’s Studio Store, 317C Pine Ave.;

• Shiny Fish Emporium, 306 Pine Ave.;

• Salon Salon, 313 Pine Ave,;

• Poppos’s Taqueria, 212 C Pine Ave.;

• The Studio at Gulf and Pine,

10101 Pine Ave.

• Harry’s Grill, 9903 Gulf Drive;

• Lava Lava, 9801 Gulf Drive, #3;

• Three Island Monkeys, 9801 Gulf Drive.

The following galleries and shops will participate in the Artwalk in Holmes Beach:

• Creations by L, 5500 Marina Drive, Ste 2;

• Saltair, 5508 Marina Drive;

• The Feast restaurant, 5406 Marina Drive;

• Restless Natives, 5416 Marina Drive;

• Island Gallery West, 5368 Gulf Drive;

• Steam Designs at Eat Here restaurant, 5316 Gulf Drive;

• AMI Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd.;

• Island Coffee Haus, 5350 Gulf Drive;

• Artists’ Guild Gallery, 5414 Marina Dr.

That evening the Island Players will hold a special performance of “Radio Ridiculous,” by Rich Orloff, at 8 p.m. There is general admission seating and tickets are $20 each at the box office at Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.

Saturday, Nov. 14

• Arts and Crafts Show to benefit the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park, Holmes Beach City Hall field, 5801Marina Drive, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Symphony in the Sand, a musical and gourmet dining event featuring the award-winning Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra, Coquina Beach Gulfside Park, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit

Sunday, Nov. 15

• Aucton of turtles crafted by local artists at Bridge Street Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Bridge Street Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring entertainment by Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots, with an Artwalk from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit all eight stops and be entered in a drawing for a prize basket. Artwalk particpants include:

• Bridge Street Bistro’s Second Floor Gallery featuring nautical paintings;

• BridgeWalk Resort showcasing Dustin Cole and his large format wood sculptures;

• The Lot with photography and upcycling by Gayden Shell;

• Sea-renity Beach Spa and Eco Boutique with Sky30 coastal wood art by Kelly Headley and art by other local artists;

• Bridge Street Interiors/Mermaid Haven showcasing handmade jewelry and art by local artists;

• Segs by the Sea featuring the Art of Motion;

• Bridge Tender Inn with the Art of the Cocktail and murals by resident artists.

• Bridge Street Market with more than 30 vendors.

From noon to 2 p.m., restaurants including Bridge Tender Inn, Blue Marlin, Bridge Street Bistro, Back Alley and Anna Maria Oyster Bar will present a Taste of Bridge Street offering exciting gourmet fare.

Also on Sunday, the Arts and Crafts Show continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Island Players will hold another special performance of “Radio Ridiculous” at 2 p.m. with general admission seating and tickets at $20 each.

Incumbents sweep Anna Maria elections

joe hendricks | sun

Carol Carter campaigned in front of Roser Memorial
Community Church before heading over to the Waterfront Restaurant
on election night.


ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria voters favored familiar faces in last week’s city elections and opted to leave their current city commission as is.

Seeking a seventh term, Dale Woodland led all candidates with 404 votes, followed by Carol Carter with 392 votes and Doug Copeland with 388 votes. Copeland and Carter were both seeking their second full terms in office.

First time candidate John Damato received 190 votes and first time candidate Penny Naylor received 151 votes.

In terms of percentages, 26.47 percent of those who cast ballots voted for Woodland, 25.75 percent for Carter, 25.43 percent for Copeland, 12.45 percent for Damato and 9.9 percent for Naylor.

Before the results came in, Woodland enjoyed dinner with friends at the Rod and Reel Pier restaurant.

Carter campaigned in front of Roser Memorial Community Church until the polls closed and then headed to the Waterfront Restaurant. Copeland awaited the election results at home.

Voter turnout was 52.4 percent, with 622 of Anna Maria’s 1,187 registered voters participating. 407 people voted in person at the church and 215 (34.5 percent) voted by mail.

The winners will be sworn in on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m.

Post-election thoughts

When asked about the elections, Woodland said, “I’m glad I got re-elected, but the thing I’m probably more happy and excited about it is our residents; they’re the ones driving this process. We got here as a city not because of us, but because of these people coming to these meetings with standing room only. That’s a real positive thing because the people are driving us rather than us putting stuff down on the people. I applaud the heck out of that and I thank them.”

With the vacation rental ordinance currently in the hands of the mediator, the city attorney, the lawsuit plaintiffs and possibly the court, Woodland looks forward to tackling another looming issue.

“The next big one to me is parking. That’s a real issue and it’s going to be controversial. That’s one that we’ve talked about for a year and a half.”

Looking back on election night, Carter said, “I was very pleased and almost equally as pleased that the other two incumbents were elected as well.”

When asked what she took from the incumbents sweeping the elections, she said, “I hope it’s true that the residents believe we worked together on their behalf; and they re-elected us with almost equal votes.”

Looking ahead, Carter said, “I certainly want to make sure we get the vacation rental ordinance in place and I want to continue to hear from the residents and get feedback from them. I want to also serve as a volunteer with the Home Sweet Home initiative so we can focus on ways to attract more residents and reinforce to the residents who are here that this is a great place to live.”

Speaking by phone while enjoying a post-election vacation, Copeland said, “I look forward to serving the city for another two years and I appreciate the citizens allowing me to do that.”

As for his next term to-do list, Copeland said, “I’m going to try to see if I can get some grants to work on Pine Avenue to mitigate the pedestrian and traffic situation.”

When asked about the three incumbents getting re-elected, he said, “They must think we’re doing something right.”

Come honor veterans

The third annual Community BBQ Honoring Veterans will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14 on the grounds of CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Veterans will be recognized at 10:50 a.m. Hear inspiring stories of battle, disability and recovery. Staff Sgt. Alex Dillmann was on a night mission when an explosion left him paralyzed. Sgt. Carl Moore was left paralyzed during a mission in Afghanistan.

Learn practical ways to honor our vets from Staff Sgt. Joe Beimfohr, who lost both legs in Iraq and Patty Durham and Linda Craig who are mothers of wounded vets.

Everybody is welcome and everything is free including lunch, which includes BBQ pork and chicken with all the fixin's. Those wanting to contribute may bring a side dish or dessert to share.

Enjoy music from Miceh Sendowich, Nick and Alicia Burke, Manatee High School and Anna Maria Elementary School.

Whether you served or not, join this grassroots celebration of our freedom and those men and women who sacrificed so we may continue to enjoy it.

Vacation rental ordinance trimmed

ANNA MARIA – The court-challenged vacation rental ordinance has been significantly amended.

During last week’s special meeting, attending commissioners Carol Carter, Doug Copeland and Dale Woodland approved on first reading an amended ordinance prepared by City Attorney Becky Vose that removes 15 pages of rental regulations. The 28-page ordinance amended and adopted in September has now been whittled down to 13 pages.

The licensing requirements and the eight-person maximum occupancy limit remain primary elements of the remaining ordinance, but the city is going to take a different approach to enforcement.

The effective date has also been pushed back from January 1 to March 1.

Still subject to a second and final public hearing, the newly amended ordinance no longer contains regulations or penalties for vacation rental agents and managers; nor does it call for the property owner to lose the ability to use the property as a vacation rental if habitually cited for violations of city ordinances and codes.

The only remaining reference to enforcement and penalties now states: “Violations of this ordinance shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 2, Administration, Article III, Code Enforcement of this code of ordinances, and through fines in accordance with ordinances and resolutions adopted by the city commission.”

Discussing the changes later in the week, Vose said, “Instead of creating a whole new process in the vacation rental ordinance, we’re just going with the existing process. The city has historically not used the code enforcement lien process, and a lot of small cities don’t. Larger cities do and Anna Maria will start. It’s a very effective way of dealing with bad actors. If it’s not a homestead property, and most of these vacation rentals are not homesteaded, the city can actually foreclose the land and have the property sold.”

Vose said she is well-versed in code enforcement liens through legal work she has performed in the Orlando area where she still resides.

“I do think it will be effective because the onus is focused on the owner of the properties,” she added.

Having recently reduced the licensing fee from $1,000 to $750, Mayor Dan Murphy said he expects to lower the fees again due to the recent changes made to the ordinance.

“If and when the new ordinance passes, I’ll go back and reexamine that fee,” Murphy said.

“What we’re trying to do is handle vacation rentals just like we handle everybody else with the existing ordinances; and the few things that we can’t handle we’ve kept intact with that ordinance,” he said.

“In essence what we’re saying is noise, parking and everything else we’ll handle just like we handle the existing residencies in Anna Maria,” he added.

Murphy and Vose said the recent changes are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to resolve ordinance-related legal challenges out of court.

As part of those efforts, Vose, Murphy and Commissioner Carol Carter were scheduled to participate in a mediation session on Tuesday, joined by the attorneys representing several plaintiffs in one of the two vacation rental lawsuits filed against the city.

Vose said changes proposed in mediation would require city commission approval.

She also said the tentative November trial dates have been cancelled and would need to rescheduled if mediation fails to resolve the remaining points of contention.

Beauty on the beach


The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra played the first
Symphony on the Sand last year to a packed audience despite a
steady rain.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is again sponsoring Symphony on the Sand.

The musical and gourmet event features the award-winning Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra (AMICCO) on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the beach at Coquina Gulfside Park, 2650 Gulf Drive South.

“Last year we dealt with inclement weather. Symphony on the Sand is a rain or shine event and we are making every effort to assure the comfort of our guests and concertgoers,” said Jeanie Pickwick, Executive Director of AMICCO and Chair of the Symphony on the Sand Steering Committee

Symphony on the Sand features a full 45-piece symphonic orchestra, chorus and professional soloists performing the sounds of classical and patriotic American songs, Broadway and movie selections, plus songs from the Beatles, Queen and Simon and Garfunkel. Al Ruechel, senior anchor for Bay News 9, and a media host from WSMR 89.1, will co-emcee the event.

Attendees can enjoy small plates created the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Beach House Restaurant, Coquina Café and The Lazy Lobster

Dining offerings include a salad course, several entrée selections, and a delicious dessert.

Sponsorship tables that seat 10 are available for $1,250 and up. Sponsor tables include small plates, as well as complimentary fine wine and select beers. Individual tickets at $100 with food and drink are offered, as are $35 tickets, without food and drink. A cash bar is available. New this year is a $70 option for high-top cocktail tables that include complimentary wine and beer. Purchasing tickets early is advised. Ticket sales on the date of the event will have an increased price. Early ticket purchases will receive priority in seating. There is always plenty of free public beach seating, so bring your beach chairs or blanket and enjoy a wonderful evening of beautiful music on Anna Maria Island’s spectacular Gulf beach.

Visit to purchase tickets or learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Contact Jeanie Pickwick at or 941-795-2370 for additional event details.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Anna Maria Island Chorus and Orchestra’s Youth and Outreach Programs.

“We are excited to bring Symphony on the Sand back for the third year - what a wonderful way to showcase what we have in abundance in our area – extraordinary music, delicious food, our spectacular beaches, and a great sense of community,” Pickwick, said.

Charter amendments approved

BRADENTON BEACH – Bradenton Beach voters approved all eight proposed charter amendments on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Voters approved amendment 1 by a 243-111 margin. This this will add two commission-appointed alternatives to the five-member Charter Review Committee that reviews the city charter every five years.

Amendment 2 passed by a 231-112 margin. This adds the building official, public works director and city treasurer to the list of charter officials that already included the city clerk, the police chief, the city attorney and the city planner. These senior staff members report to the mayor and commission and can only be terminated by a commission-majority vote.

Amendment 3 passed by a 208-144 margin. This provides the mayor the authority to appoint department heads while requiring him or her to prepare or have prepared an annual city budget and capital spending plan. An annual State of the City report is also now mandated.

Passing by the slimmest margin of all the amendments, amendment 4 was approved 184-164, and now requires a four-fifths supra majority commission vote, and the referendum approval of city voters to dispose of real city property. This amendment applies primarily to city-owned land and does not apply to office equipment, tools and lesser expenditures.

By a margin of 212-128, voters approved amendment 5, which now provides the city with a specific process in order initiate forfeiture of office proceedings against a commission member.

In order to initiate proceedings, the accusing member or members must provide evidence to support the accusations. A four-fifths supra-majority vote is then required in order to forward the proceedings to three independent arbitrators who would provide the final ruling. This process takes away the commission’s ability to remove another member from office.

Voters approved by a 236-116 margin the amendment 6 requirement that says you must now be a resident of the city for two years before you are eligible to seek an elected office. The previous requirement was nine months.

The largest margin of approval was the 244-90 vote in favor of amendment 7, which now requires a four-fifths supra-majority commission vote and the approval from city voters in order to change the principal use of city parks, preserves, recreational areas, city rights-of-way and all direct and indirect beach or bay access points. Prior to this amendment being passed, these actions could be taken with the simple majority support of three commissioners.

Voters approved amendment 8 by a 222-112 margin. This stipulates the city commission must serve as the final authority in regard to granting or rejecting development-related variance requests. The city can no longer delegate that final authority to a special master or any other individual or entity.

This amendment brings the variance approval process in line with processes that already exist for comprehensive plan amendments, rezoning requests and the vacation of city right of ways.

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