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News Section: Local Government

Palmetto Commissioner to Challenge for County Seat

Published Friday, February 22, 2013 12:07 am

BRADENTON – Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith stood before a dozen supporters at City Hall Wednesday to announce his candidacy for Manatee County Commission District 2. Smith says Palmetto pays plenty in taxes, but gets little in return. The heavily-Democratic district is currently represented by Michael Gallen, who defeated longtime incumbent Gwen Brown in an open-Democratic primary back in 2010.

Smith says he "hasn't seen anything happen," in District 2, which covers much of urban Bradenton and Palmetto (part of West Palmetto is included in District 1). Smith, who won election to his commission seat this past November after being appointed to fill the Ward 1 seat vacated by Mary Lancaster, says he is "unhappy with the current representation," which is "not what Palmetto needs in order to prosper." Smith said, "We need someone proactive north of the river, and we are just not getting it."


clientuploads/2012 Local/Smith_Announces.jpg

Smith's Palmetto commission term ends in November 2014, just in time to take the county commission seat, should he win the election. Smith said, "I intend to live up to my commitment to the city."

The commissioner took issue to the amount of investment in development, which he said doesn't seem to make it north of the river.

"People here are asking me for help," said Smith, adding, "We pay plenty in taxes, but we get little in return." Smith says he has the experience to get it done, and if given the chance he would raise issues like the need for more diverse jobs. Smith also said he would "articulate ideas" that would make what he called, "a bad situation" better.

clientuploads/2012 Local/csmith_sm.png
Charles Smith
Michael Gallen

Pastor Charles Williams, Geneva Presha and Theressa Scott were among the supporters at city hall. Smith was also flanked by Henry Lawrence, former NFL Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion, who is also a popular local R&B vocalist. "Charles is the real thing," said Lawrence.

Angela Washington, Lawrence's partner in the Bradenton restaurant and lounge A Touch of Class, was also present for the announcement. Washington said, "He's a fighter, and he cares," when asked why she is supporting Smith.

District 2 is a deliberately gerrymandered district that resulted from a compromise to a lawsuit by the NAACP, to help ensure an opportunity for minority representation. As most African Americans in the Republican-dominated county are registered with the Democratic Party, the district has long been the only in which a Democrat not only has a realistic chance of winning, but is unlikely to even draw a Republican opponent.

As such, the Democratic primary usually decides the seat. According to Florida law, if no one outside the party files to run, the primary race becomes open to all voters in the district, regardless of their registration status.

Current District 2 Manatee Commissioner Michael Gallen is friends with City Commissioner Smith and neither have been quoted as saying anything negative about the other. Although the race for District 2 may be more than a year away from when the first bumper sticker appears, the discussion on issues and what both have in mind for the district has just begun.

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Is not the same man who was previously removed from his initial term on the city of Palmetto's commission board? Is this really the best person for the job he currently somehow wheaseled his way back into after being formally reviewed and then removed from office? Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but seem to recall this as fact. How or why would one be removed from his commission seat and be allowed back? Political games? It seems apparent to me that once removed for any misconduct (private or public) would dictate reasonable questioning of ability to conduct the real business at hand. In my opinion once squandered these opportunities should not even be presented again. Can we not do better with a candidate who has not had these issues? And the larger question to me, why is there a second chance? His actions were deemed serious enough for the state to remove him from commission seat in the past, what has changed? Why are there not other candidates not stepping up? Seems reasonable to question, correct?
Posted by Geoffrey Campbell on February 24, 2013

Commissioner Gallen has done more for District 2 in two years than the entire previous commissioner representing that district such as:

1. Initiating the suit to close drug haven Grover Market.
2. Open Lincoln Middle School Playground after hours.
3. Obtained funding for Splash Park
4. Override County administrator in funding Little League Ball field.
5. Raised the money for Lincoln High School monument.
Most of the residents in his district are very pleased with his representation.
Posted by Richard McNulty on February 22, 2013

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