Bradenton 2020 Election: Candidates, Races, Issues

·28 min read

MANATEE COUNTY, FL — Bradenton-area voters head to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes for candidates and determine the fate of statewide constitutional amendments.

There are plenty of decisions to make in the general election this year. Like voters around the country, Manatee County residents are eager to have a say in the outcome of this year’s race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Vice President Joe Biden. There are also a multitude of local races to consider, as voters will decide who fills seats on various governing bodies, including The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners, Bradenton City Council and the School Board of Manatee County.

Voter turnout started strong this year with mail-in ballots and early voting. A week before Election Day, Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett said those early numbers were “outstanding.” He added, “I would have to say that it's one of the highest turnouts we've had in a short period of time like this."

As of Sunday, nearly 63 percent of eligible voters in the county had voted. Of the approximately 171,000 people who voted as of Sunday, about 100,000 voted by mail and another 71,000 voted early in person.

"Each (polling) site is averaging a little over 4,500 (voters) every day," he said.

These numbers are higher than Bennett anticipated. He expected around 160,000 total Manatee voters to have participated in the general election by the time polls close on Election Day, he said.

Initially, "Democrats outperformed the Republicans," he added.

"There's been a huge push by the Democratic party to get people out here voting early. The Republicans caught them (about a week ago). Some Republicans held off, I think, to vote in person," Bennett said.

“People are really motivated to vote in this election,” said Alice Newlon, president of the League of Women Voters of Manatee County. “So, they don’t want to wait until Election Day. They want to get out there and vote right away.

She’s not sure what this means for Election Day voting and whether there will be long lines at the polls in Manatee.

"I'm just wondering if on Election Day it's gonna be light because people wanted to get out there early," she said.

Return to Patch for Tuesday's local election results: Subscribe to free News Alerts.

Meet the Candidates

For those opting to vote in person on Nov. 3, Bradenton Patch has compiled information that will help you make informed decisions at the polls. Here’s everything you need to know about candidates, races and issues in Manatee County.

Representative in Congress, District 16

Current Florida State Rep. Margaret Good, a Democrat, challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for the District 16 congressional seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

Democrat Margaret Good currently serves as a state representative who "has built a reputation as a legislator who reaches across the aisle to find solutions to help Florida's working families by reducing health care costs, investing in our public education and university systems, and protecting Florida's fragile environment, recognizing the important role our environment plays in our economy," according to her campaign website.

She earned her law degree from University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she served as editor of the Florida Law Review and graduated with honors, her website said. She and her husband moved to Sarasota after law school. Good worked as an attorney at Matthews Eastmoore.

According to her website, she is dedicated to ending "the partisan politics that hurt working families." She said she'll "be a strong voice for each of the communities in the 16th district by building bridges and finding solutions to our most challenging problems."

If elected, her priorities include rebuilding the economy post-COVID-19. She said she'll "focus on lowering taxes for the middle class, investing in job and skill training programs, especially clean energy jobs, expanding opportunity for local businesses, and diversifying Florida's economy," according to her website.

Learn more about Good at her campaign website.

According to his campaign website, Vern Buchanan "is a self-made businessman who knows what it takes to create jobs and jump-start the economy. He understands that America's greatness comes from its entrepreneurial spirit and pro-growth, free-market policies."

The incumbent U.S. representative serves on the House Ways & Means Committee, which tackles tax policy, international trade, health care, welfare and Social Security. He's also the chair of the Tax Policy Subcommittee.

"A tireless champion for small business, Buchanan is an outspoken advocate of reforming the U.S. tax code to make it simpler, fairer and less burdensome to fuel the economy and get Americans back to work," his website said.

Concerned by the federal government's "out-of-control spending spree," the first bill he introduced in Congress was a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 2007.

"The measure simply requires the federal government to live within its means just like every family in America," his website said.

His website also said that Buchanan is "tired of the dysfunction in Washington" and promotes bipartisan collaboration.

Learn more about Buchanan at his campaign website.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners, District 1

Democrat Dominique Shauntel Brown and Republican James A. Satcher are running for the Manatee Board of County Commission's District 1 seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

Democrat Dominique Shauntel Brown, 35, lives in Palmetto with her two sons. A local attorney, she owns two small businesses, The Dream Law Firm, PLLC and Dream, Succeed, Become LLC.

She searched in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years, including a combat tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan. She earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in applied social/criminal justice from Florida A&M University.

She went on to earn her juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University. Brown is licensed to practice law in Florida (including the federal bar), North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

“Traffic and lack of infrastructure are the most pressing issues in our district and county,” she said. “I plan to work with the other (commissioners) to come up with a feasible plan to ensure that we can begin to implement within the first six months of my being elected.”

Brown added, “I am focused on our future. Manatee County needs leaders who care more about uniting our communities and not tearing us down or pitting us against each other. When elected to the District 1 seat, I will zealously advocate for everyone, not just the few, and I will be a voice for the overlooked and voiceless. Representation matters – my platform is all inclusive – for all residents of District 1.”

Learn more about Brown on her campaign website.

According to his campaign website, Republican James A. Satcher is a husband, father, minister and "true conservative." He also works as a small business consultant and runs a nonprofit organization that provides food and housing to single mothers and the homeless and assists with disaster relief. He's currently enrolled at Stetson Law earning his Juris Doctorate.

His campaign website states that his "background and experience give him the unique ability to bring conservative, faith-based values and unmatched passion to tackling the important issues that are shaping our community." It also says that Satcher is "a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, constitutional conservative who knocked doors to get out the vote for" Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

According to his website, he's also pro-law enforcement and first responders and is dedicated to lowering taxes. If elected, he also vows to "fast track infrastructure improvements" as traffic worsens in Manatee County. Satcher said he would also like to create "a pro-business environment that does not play favorites."

Learn more about Satcher on his campaign website.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners, District 3

Matthew J. Bower, a registered Republican running with no party affiliation, and Republican Kevin Van Ostenbridge are running for the Manatee Board of County Commission's District 3 seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

Matthew J. Bower is a lifelong resident of West Bradenton. According to the Bradenton Times, though he's a registered Republican, he's running with no party affiliation in the District 3 race. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, he is a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate of Saint Leo University.

The Times reports that he is a proponent for smart, sustainable growth in Manatee County. As a member of the county's Planning Commission, he's also earned a reputation for asking developers difficult questions. This ultimately led to him being asked to leave the position. And he prides himself on not accepting any donations from developers during this campaign.

"How people run for office and who they accept contributions from sets the tone for the way they will serve and, more importantly, who they will serve," says Bower. As such, he has decided to not accept any campaign donations from developers.

"Developers gather together and decide who will be serving their interest, then proceed to raise excessive donations, including funding those political PACs," Bower told the times. "They often use several companies they control using a loophole to exceed individual campaign contributions. To them, it's a business decision, but, to the rest of us, it comes at the expense of what we value."

Other concerns include traffic issues, lowering taxes, improving infrastructure, and protecting the wetlands, estuaries and coastal waters.

Bower's campaign Facebook page can be found online here.

According to his campaign website, Republican Kevin Van Ostenbridge is "a lifelong resident, business man and community advocate" in Manatee County. He's in the real estate industry, working for Boyd Realty. He's also the founder of a Bradenton-based excursion company, Be Easy Tours.

He's been active in numerous community organizations. According to his website, he's a member of the Republican Executive Committee and the Manatee County Republican Club; serves on the transportation and legislative committees for the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Bradenton's Planning Commission, Bradenton Kiwanis Club, Manatee High School football, and is a graduate of Leadership Manatee.

During his time in Manatee, Van Ostenbridge "witnessed firsthand the challenges and transformation that (the county) has faced. He believes (this is) a critical time in Manatee County's history. (He) is running on a campaign to protect (the) community's quality of life, safeguarding beaches and estuaries, fighting tax increases, revitalizing West Bradenton, and cultivating responsible growth; and believes that through these policies, we can keep Manatee County great."

According to the Herald-Tribune, he's also focused on reopening the economy and job growth as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He's also an opponent of unnecessary government regulations.

Learn more about Van Ostenbridge at his campaign website.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners, District 5

Write-in candidates Carol Ann Felts and Chris Gilbert challenge incumbent Republican Vanessa Baugh for the Manatee Board of County Commission's District 5 seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

According to her campaign website, Republican Vanessa Baugh and her husband founded Vanessa Fine Jewelry, which is located on Lakewood Ranch's Main Street. She studied business administration at Tidewater Community College and studied at the Gemological Institute of America.

She told the Observer that her main priorities are improving infrastructure – including roadways, as well as water and sewer lines – law enforcement funding and reducing government regulations. She also said that the county needs to work with developers to bring more affordable housing to Manatee.

According to her interview with the Observer, Baugh is not "a fan of impact fees" because how they're used is restricted by Florida laws. She said she also believes government spending should be cut and each department audited to avoid increasing the millage rate.

Baugh also recently voted to repeal the county's mandatory mask mandate. According to the Bradenton Times, she said, "The majority of people wear a mask not because of a mandate but because they know it's the right thing to do. It's up to each business to enforce whether people should wear a mask or not."

Learn more about Baugh at her campaign website.

According to the Bradenton Herald, write-in candidate Carol Ann Felts lives in Myakka City and is known for her participation in the Cracker Trail Ride for 15 years. She has previously served as a trail boss.

She has been an advocate for numerous issues in recent years, including the Florida Power & Light's Bobwhite-Manatee Transmission Line and Manatee's stormwater fees. She told the Herald that her biggest concerns involve government transparency and communication.

"We have gotten mired in bureaucracy and nothing gets done," Felts said.

She also spoke out against the "apathy" of Manatee County voters and leaders to The Bradenton Times.

"My 'competition' is not the current commissioner or other opponent. The challenge is the apathy and lack of information or knowledge of how our local government works or doesn't work. Our county commissioners are the first line of representation for most people, yet so few even know what district they live in or who their commissioner is," she said. "This stands for people who have been in office or at high levels of the county staff for years, making decisions that affect us in our own backyards, and yet interact so little with all their constituents or sincerely encourage others to be involved."

The issues most important to her include planning for growth and development, Felts told the Times.

"Growth is inevitable, and I am a realist in the need to prepare and plan for that growth. We cannot continue to approve new development without requiring stipulations for an adequate contribution from those developers, not to political campaigns, but to the necessary infrastructure to support these new communities," she said.

Chris Gilbert, 57, is a Bradenton resident. He's a registered Democrat running as a write-in candidate. He's previously served as chair of Bradenton's Tree and Land Preservation Board.

He holds a bachelor's degree in American studies and environmental history from Eckerd College. He's currently studying financial planning through the American College of Financial Services. He's worked in communications for 27 years.

“The single most fundamental issue facing District 5 is a few wealthy special interests control our future,” he told Bradenton Patch. “I intend to return power to citizens, work for the common good, and ensure citizens are treated with respect when they bring their concerns to our Board of County Commissioners.”

Gilbert also criticized the incumbent, Baugh, for not supporting mask requirements for Manatee County citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and for representing “wealthy special interests,” rather than county residents.

“I will represent citizens. Mrs. Baugh ignores and dismisses the concerns of citizens, while I will respect dissent and will bring citizens back into the political process,” he said. “Mrs. Baugh believes that people who need help should sink or swim, and only wealthy companies should get help, while I believe government has a duty to help people.”

He added that “the role and purpose of government is at the center of my campaign. I believe that government can solve many of our most important problems, such as providing clean water, efficient commutes, and human services. Private interests cannot solve many of the problems we face in life. My incumbent opponent believes that everything should be up to private companies. Government efficiency is important to me. If I'm elected, I will propose a government consolidation, to create a single countywide government. This will streamline planning and has the potential to save taxpayer money. For such a wealthy County, the quality of life in Manatee County is declining. Our rivers and aquifer are being polluted by industrial chemical byproducts by the phosphate mining industry. We are not doing nearly enough to bring-in sustainable industry, which could raise wages and make it easier for people to buy houses (addressing the affordable housing crisis). Manatee County is divided into lush suburbs with parks and green space, and tree-starved, concrete-covered urban corridors. Citizens do not have equal access to green space. Manatee County could have a large, integrated park system that people could enjoy, and that would give animals a chance to survive.”

Learn more about Gilbert at his campaign website.

Manatee Board of County Commissioners, District 7, At Large

Write-in candidate Thomas Whitten Dell takes on Republican George W. Kruse for the Manatee Board of County Commission's District 7 Seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Republican candidate George W. Kruse has a background in finance and real estate. He's also served on the Bradenton Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and is a member of the Bradenton Kiwanis Club and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

On his campaign website, he said, "I bring my private sector business approach to solving challenges like smart growth and responsible conservative budgeting to the county commission. The taxpayers are our customers, and we should always remember we work for them."

Kruse also said that he plans to be "a conservative voice" on the commission.

He wrote, "We will focus on a small government, limited tax agenda that will protect both the personal rights and the personal capital of the citizens of Manatee County. Much like President Trump on the Federal level, I will add a private-sector view to the board to ensure diverse, free market views are heard and enacted for the benefit of the overall community."

He also said he plans to focus on sustainable growth, "rather than allowing unimpeded sprawl," and wants to draw higher-wage jobs to Manatee.

Learn more about Kruse at his campaign website.

Write-in candidate Thomas Whitten Dell doesn't have a campaign website or Facebook page. According to the Supervisor of Elections website, he hasn't raised or spent any campaign funds as of Oct. 28. According to his profile, he lives in Parrish.

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections

Democrat Charles Williams, Jr. challenges incumbent Republican Michael S. Bennett for Supervisor of Elections role. Learn more about these candidates here.

Incumbent Republican Michael S. Bennett, 75, lives in Bradenton with his wife, Dee. He's served as Supervisor of Elections for the past eight years. Prior to this, he served in the Florida Senate for 10 years, as well as the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002. He earned a bachelor's degree and Master of Business Administration degree from Drake University.

He said his biggest concerns are “honest, accurate voting” and that his experience as the Supervisor of Elections and in business set him apart from his opponent, he told Bradenton Patch.

“I have increased voting in Manatee County and at the same time held the budget constant over eight years,” Bennett said. “We increased vote by mail by 300 percent, added five early voting sites and held the budget constant while doing so.”

He also told Patch that he supports “All Lives Matter,” called the nationwide movement to defund police “horrible” and defended President Trump’s coronavirus response.

Learn more about Bennett at his campaign website.

According to his page, Democrat Charles Williams, Jr. is founder and pastor of the King of Kings Baptist Church in Palmetto with his wife, Joann. He earned a bachelor's degree in theology from Emmaus Baptist College.

Williams is a member of the Board of Directors for Oasis Charter School, a member of the Manatee County NAACP and is a charter member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He's also served as the youth pastor at Mount Raymond Full Gospel Baptist Church and was instrumental in starting the youth football league at the Palmetto Youth Center.

According to the Observer, he's also assistant pastor at St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Bradenton and a teacher aide in Manatee County Schools.

He told the Observer that he's running for Supervisor of Elections because he "see(s) a shortfall in the area of community outreach to all areas of our county with regard to motivating and encouraging all our citizenry to register and vote. I believe with my communication skills and pastoral background I can achieve the objective of enhancing voter registration and voter turnout."

Williams also said he opposes Amendment 1 on this year's ballot. If passed, Amendment 1 would change the Florida Constitution to read that "only a citizen of the United States…shall be an elector."

"I believe that voting is a basic American right that should always be protected and not left to the current political winds or made unnecessarily difficult. Many of our residents have green cards, work and pay taxes, serve in the military, etc.," he told the Observer. "Therefore, why should they not be allowed to vote? They should not be treated like 'second class citizens.' I am opposed to Amendment 1."

School Board of Manatee County, District 3

Mary K. Foreman and incumbent Dave "Watchdog" Miner face off in School Board of Manatee County District 3 run-off race. Learn more about these candidates here.

According to her campaign website, Mary K. Foreman has lived in Bradenton with her husband Gary since 2001. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in accounting, she worked as a certified public accountant until 2019, when she retired.

She's served on Manatee County School District's Audit Committee since 2013, when the group first formed, and has taken on the role of chair. Through this position, she became familiar with the district's budget and operations, her website said.

"Having volunteered countless hours reviewing the work of the district's auditors and making recommendations to the School Board based on the audit reports, she has worked tirelessly to ensure accountability," according to her website. "As a member of the School Board, Mary would bring financial experience and attention to detail to the district's $851 million budget as well as a parent's concern for the success and well-being of our students."

According to the Herald-Tribune, Foreman has questioned how the district Superintendent Cynthia Saunders has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her transparency with the board. As the board considers extending her contract, Foreman said she thinks the district should explore its options.

"Frankly, the public was told two years ago that the board was going to conduct a nationwide (superintendent) search," Foreman told the Herald-Tribune. "I believe they owe it to the public to say they are going to do a nationwide search, and if Ms. Saunders wants to apply for that job, fine, but I think we need to get a seasoned superintendent who can get the job done. We need the best out there, and we don't have that right now."

She also said the district spends too much on administration. She wants to revamp the budgeting process so that each school principal has a better understanding of the funds available to them each year. She also wants the public to have more input at meetings.

Learn more about Foreman at her campaign website.

Incumbent Dave "Watchdog" Miner is seeking reelection. According to his campaign website, he's lived in Manatee County since 1978. That's when he launched his law firm since 1978, which he still owns. He has also served as an assistant city attorney, assistant county attorney and assistant state attorney.

He's been honored numerous times for his community service, including "Children's Advocate of the Year," "Father of the Year," and "Drum Major for Justice," and he was a nominee for "Florida Attorney of the Year." According to his website, he earned his nickname "Watchdog" from local reporters. The name refers to his advocacy work for education and children.

Miner was instrumental in passing the 2018 1-mill property tax referendum, which provides around $37 million to the school district each year, according to his website. He's also dedicated to combating climate change and making the district's buildings more energy efficient.

His website states that financial transparency is also important to him. He helped establish a volunteer audit committee to monitor the district's finances. During his time on the board, the district's total fund balance increased by more than $20 million and its Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch financial ratings improved.

According to his website, Miner established a child abuse prevention program for the district, as well as METV, Manatee Educational Television.

While his opponent is critical of Superintendent Saunders, he told the Herald-Tribune that he thinks she's doing a good job. He called his opponents' criticism of the superintendent "garbage."

"Should you support somebody who is going a good job … who works very hard, puts in many long days?" Miner told the Herald-Tribune. "Should you support someone who is moving the School Board in great directions, who is doing more than most of the superintendents in the state?"

He also said that he puts in a lot of "behind-the-scenes" work to improve the district.

Learn more about Miner at his campaign website.

Bradenton City Council, Mayor

Gene Brown, Harold Byrd and Dimitrie Denis want to be the next mayor of Bradenton. Learn more about these candidates here.

According to his campaign website, Gene Brown is serving his third term on the Bradenton City Council. He's also vice president and COO of Brown & Sons Funeral Homes and Crematory.

His website highlights his community service, including his work with the DeSoto Boys and Girls Club and his time on the Boys and Girls Club Corporate Board from 1993 to 2018. He's also served on the Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County Foundation board.

Brown has also coached various youth sports teams, continue to serve on the Manatee High School Radio Crew, and served on the city's Police Pension Board and its Merit Board, as well as the Manatee County Sheriff's Advisory Committee.

In a message on his website, he wrote, "Bradenton is growing and with growth comes challenges. I know we can keep taxes low, manage growth effectively and allow Bradenton's story of prosperity to continue. Our top priorities are to protect our quality of life and public safety. Bradenton has a bright future and I'm asking for our entire community to rally with us to keep that future bright"

Learn more about Brown at his campaign website.

Harold Byrd has served twice as Bradenton's Ward 5 councilman, first from 1989 to 1995 and then from 2007 to present. A graduate of Manatee County Schools, he earned his bachelor's degree in business management from Eckerd College and his Juris Doctor from Florida A&M College of Law. He also earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix.

He's been involved in numerous community activities, including serving on the board of directors for United Way of Manatee County, Big Brothers & Big Sisters and the Manatee Council on Aging. He's been honored with various community service awards.

On his website, Brown wrote, "Public service has always been a part of my life. This will continue to be a major focus of my work. With my latest educational attainment, I would like to utilize my many years of government experience to teach public policy and law at the collegiate level."

As a councilman, he's also focused on redevelopment. He even earned certification as a redevelopment professional from the Florida Redevelopment Association. He serves as vice chair of the Bradenton Community Redevelopment Agency.

According to his website, Brown is also an advocate for affordable housing. He lobbied for the passage of the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act, which, for more than 20 years, has provided funding for affordable housing.

Learn more about Brown at his campaign website.

Dimitrie Denis earned his master's in business administration degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. He also holds a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of South Florida.

According to his campaign website, he's "a firm believer in family, religion and state" and is "a pro-business constitutionalist who believes in fiscal responsibility and working towards a future where all Bradenton residents can thrive."

He hopes to lead the city through the COVID-19 pandemic, having heard numerous tragic stories on the campaign trail. If elected, he'll structure an economic recovery plan to help the community rebuild.

Denis said he'll also focus on recruiting new businesses and investors to the area. Affordable housing, lowering taxes, and addressing traffic and transportation concerns are also important issues for him.

"If elected, Dimitrie will put accountability and transparency at the forefront, ensuring that every resident can voice their concerns on major issues. He has a structured economic recovery plan to identify areas to attract new businesses, reassess current infrastructure, and ensure that the budget remains balanced as our country recovers from this crisis," according to his website. "Further, Dimitrie has declared that he will not accept any donations from major developers to ensure that affordable housing does not get overlooked in the coming years."

Learn more about Denis at his campaign website.

Bradenton City Council, Ward 5

Pamela Mitchell Coachman and Keenan Wooten vie for Bradenton City Council Ward 5 seat. Learn more about these candidates here.

Pamela Mitchell Coachman, 63, has a master of science degree in speech and language pathology from the University of South Florida. She's enjoyed a career as a speech and language pathologist.

“There are so many issues: For one, Ward 5 should feel they are a part of the city. There is a need to improve internal communications between the people with the city council, Bradenton Police Department, and other city departments,” she told Bradenton Patch. “We also need to create more external opportunities for citizens to communicate with their city council, Bradenton Police Department, and other city departments so they have a seat at the decision table. Many citizens feel as though if they're not at the decision table, they are on the menu. It's imperative to me to change that narrative.”

Coachman added, “In addition to improved communication, I would like to focus on business development – I want to ensure that we keep our small businesses afloat in these difficult times. Additionally, I would like the city to foster entrepreneurship programs so that way we can create more jobs in the city of Bradenton. I also want to recruit businesses to make Bradenton their home and hire local residents complete with livable wages. I also want to make sure that city government is doing everything they can to encourage attainable and workforce housing. Our young professionals and seniors need it.”

Learn more about Coachman at her campaign website.

According to Keenan Wooten’s campaign website, he's a Bradenton native who graduated from Southeast High School. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He also holds a graduate certificate in leadership in developing human resources and a master's degree in adult education from the University of South Florida.

Wooten currently works as a student support specialist and athletic director at Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School, his website said. In the community, he serves on the Minority Task Force for the Manatee County School District, is a member of the Sarasota Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, is vice president of the NAA Sarasota-Manatee chapter and is the Take Stock in Children coordinator for Lee Middle School. He also sits on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

He hopes to focus on economic development in Ward 5, according to his website. He wants to attract new businesses that offer higher paying jobs to residents. He'd also like to "bring the long overdue grocery store to East-Central Bradenton" and encourage investors to take advantage of opportunity zones in the area. Additionally, he wants to use redevelopment to reduce blight in the area's urban corridors.

Infrastructure needs to be improved in areas that tend to flood heavily. Traffic flow also needs improvements, Wooten said. He also plans to focus on bringing more affordable housing to the area, youth drug prevention programs and improving relationships with community policing agencies.

Learn more about Wooten at his campaign website.

Constitutional Amendments

Voters will also decide the fate of six amendments to Florida’s constitution. Here are the amendments being considered:

Amendment 1: Provides that only U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old, a permanent resident of Florida and registered to vote may vote in a Florida election.

Amendment 2: Raises Florida’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026.

Amendment 3: Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation.

Amendment 4: Requires proposed amendments or revisions to Florida’s constitution be approved in two elections.

Amendment 5: Increase the period of time accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead from two to three years.

Amendment 6: Allows a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

This article originally appeared on the Bradenton Patch

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