News Section: Election 2012
Race Analysis: Manatee County Commission: District 1
BRADENTON -- Few of the county commissioner races have been as contentious as the one for Manatee County's District 1, where Democrat Corie Homes is challenging incumbent Republican Larry Bustle. Traditionally, incumbents have the advantage, but the same question that is being asked in the presidential race: Are you better off today then you were four years ago? has incumbents around the country forced to defend themselves.
By far, the largest portion of District 1 is north of the river, and those that live there often feel they are treated differently then the other districts in the county, and in many cases the sentiment seems justified. Historically, District 1 is home to the majority of the county's agriculture, but in recent years urban sprawl has been leaving it's mark. Many residents feel the quaint town of Parrish is losing it's charm to rubber-stamp-development.
Holmes accuses Bustle of doing just that, 'catering to special interests,' which Bustle denies. Bustle defended himself against the same accusation from Republican Nathaniel Leonard in an METV primary race debate saying, "That is easy to say, but hard to prove." Bustle says he is committed to business-friendly government that focuses on job creation and economic incentives. He prides himself for the growth, construction and development in Parrish, putting emphasis on his support for the Fort Hamer bridge, he says will bring more economic development to east Manatee.
Holmes says, "It's time we put the public first, listen to their needs. Our community has been neglected. My opponent is disconnected with District 1." Holmes claims Bustle is overwhelmed by the responsibilities as chairman to the Port Authority, his responsibility as chair to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and his obligations to his position on the Metropolitan Planning Organization,and is unable to multi-task the concerns of his district. He says, "All the people get is a rubber-stamp, and the consequences that are a result of that."
Bustle argues, saying "I'm very much attentive to the citizens of my district," pointing out his focus is on passing an affordable and balanced budget. He says his seven years as mayor of the City of Palmetto and the almost four years he has spent as county commissioner, qualifies him for the job.
Holmes has a background in law enforcement and as an investigator in the private sector. He says, "It's time we get a fresh and new face for the job. Bustle has a long string of mistakes and votes that have been on the wrong side to the interest of the people in District 1."
Holmes points out the "million dollar blinking yellow light," adding, "I, unlike my opponent, stand firmly behind those at the Manatee County Sheriff's office and Emergency Medical Services who have gone six years without a raise. The residents of Rubonia only get lip service from Commissioner Bustle, and the kids in Palmetto that have been waiting to get their Little League ballfields back, have grown up."
Bustle objects to the claims of disconnect. He says his track record is one of "honesty and Integrity," though Holmes points out that he is currently facing ethics charges for failing to report commissions for real estate referral commissions and that the Commissioner has come under fire for what some people (including some of his fellow commissioners) called the abuse of a tax incentive, that has saved him thousands of dollars in property tax on his million dollar-plus waterfront mansion; and the commissioner's failure to use local vendors, despite his proclaimed emphasis on jobs.
Bustle has a huge campaign war chest at his disposal, having raised more than any county commission candidate: more than $100,000 total and nearly 10 times what the grass roots campaign of Holmes has managed. On November 6, we will find out what the residents in District 1 decide. With such a stark difference between the two, two very different futures lie in the wake.
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