Election season is coming up and it’s a strange one this year on Anna Maria Island, mainly because there are no elections being held in any of the three cities. All the qualified candidates are incumbents, leaving no reason for voters to go to the polls in November.
Either residents are happy with their current elected officials or are there no more willing volunteers on the Island.
It may be the latter.
Holmes Beach commissioners are about to amend their city’s charter because only one person qualified to run for the five-person 2024 Charter Review Commission. In Anna Maria, the historic preservation board just dropped its numbers down to three people so that it only takes two volunteers showing up to have a quorum.
Are Island residents just not taking an interest in their city governments anymore or is the lack of volunteers due to residents leaving the Island?
While city leaders in Holmes Beach say their population grew over the past year, U.S. Census data from 2021, the most recent data publicly available, shows a drop in full-time residents across the Island.
Drops in population combined with a lack of willing candidates to run for office could signal a shift that some Manatee County and state leaders are looking for, one that would indicate the three Island cities are ripe for consolidation.
Our communities need some volunteers to step up to work on committees and run for office. Otherwise, it may just be the straw that breaks the Island’s back.