MANATEE COUNTY -- Being a member of the Manatee County Board of Commissioners has its perks. Clout around town, a free center-city parking space, and a salary of $74,764.00, for what amounts to a part-time job, are just some of the cushy spoils of election victory.
|A commission meeting in the chambers|
Who can be a county commissioner? This year, districts 2, 4, and 6 go up for grabs. To start with, you must live in Manatee County and you must be a registered voter. For districts 2 and 4, you must reside and be registered in that district to run, but district 6 is an at-large district, meaning anyone living in the county can run for it.
Time is running out though. You must qualify by June 18, which means you'll need to appoint a campaign treasurer and depository. Normally, you'd need to get signatures from1 percent of your registered voters, which makes it relatively easy (345-390) until you get into the at-large race (2,062). However, May 17 was the signature deadline, so you'll have to pony up 6 percent of the commissioner salary for the filing fee, which comes to $4,485.84.
If money's tight, you can always run as a write-in candidate. Write-in candidates don't have to qualify, but also don't get their names on the ballot, so you'll have to do some serious branding if you expect folks to remember to fill in your name at the bottom of the ticket.
You'll have to make full financial disclosures, and of course your opponents will go over your past with a fine toothed comb, but if you survive the process, you'll get to have a direct vote in your county's future.
The Board convenes about four to eight times each month for regular meetings, land use meetings, Port Authority meetings, and other special sessions for things like the county budget, currently just under a half-billion annually. Each summer, they recess for about a month, so if the long hours are getting to you, you'll still have time to recharge.
The issues that the board covers are wide ranging, including but not limited to; zoning and comprehensive land use, overseeing the marketing of the Manatee Civic Center and Port Manatee, management of the county parks and preserves, and legislating ordinances for public health and safety.
Some of the other services they oversee include; libraries, beaches, boat ramps, road work, and mass transit.. The Commission's budgeting oversight includes the Sheriff's Department, Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, the Supervisor of Elections, environmental monitoring and protection, the county jail, emergency operations, ambulances, traffic management, funding for indigent health care, senior and children services, planning and building departments, affordable housing programs, economic development, landfills, reclaimed water systems, potable water and sewer, storm water and the county golf courses.
There are no requirements as far as education or work experience. Current and past commissioners have had diverse backgrounds in law enforcement, education, public administration, the military, executive management, and small business.
So, there you have it. If you're thinking about making a run, check out the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Candidate Guide (PDF 1.16 MB) to learn more. You can also check out a commission meeting by visiting the county calendar or checking ME-TV's schedule of meeting broadcasts to see our elected commissioners in action.