Courtesy of The Bradenton Herald
Published October 12, 2019
Just days after retired county administrator Ed Hunzeker
announced he would run for the District 5 seat on the Board of County
Commissioners, incumbent Vanessa Baugh has officially thrown her hat into
Baugh, a Republican
who has served on the board for two terms, filed her
paperwork Thursday. In a press release, she explained that
improving quality of life, infrastructure improvements and
fighting against tax hikes will be her campaign priorities
heading into 2020.
“Manatee County is finally at a point where we are moving
forward and getting things accomplished,” Baugh said in a
prepared statement. “We’re making investments in public
safety, critical infrastructure improvements, protecting our
natural resources and waterways and being fiscally
conservative with taxpayer dollars.”
Hunzeker, who served as county administrator for 12 years,
retired from his post in March. He announced Monday he would
challenge Baugh for the GOP nomination in District 5, which
encompasses Lakewood Ranch, Myakka City and other parts of
Both candidates position themselves as staunch supporters
of Republican values and President Donald Trump.
In his campaign kickoff, Hunzeker boasted of his performance in navigating
the county through the Great Recession, long-range planning and his ability
to deliver a balanced budget.
“I have 51 years of experience in government,” he said. “I’ve been with
Manatee County for 12 years and I truly understand the workings of
Four biggest priorities in Manatee County's $1.4 billion recommended budget
Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker presented the board of county
commissioners with his recommended budget Thursday during a work session,
the first of several talks leading to a finalized budget in September.
Baugh, on the other hand, touted her close relationship with constituents
since she was first elected in 2012. In recent months, Baugh has advocated
for lower taxes, and fought to block residents in Lakewood Ranch
community development districts and homeowners associations from having to
pay a new stormwater fee.
“We still have lots to accomplish to keep Manatee County moving in the right
direction. We need to focus on lowering taxes and fees on families and small
businesses and keep big government out of the way of free enterprise. I am a
proven conservative who has and will continue to work hard every day to
ensure Manatee County continues to be a wonderful place to live,” Baugh
Baugh has been critical of Hunzeker’s performance as administrator in the
past. While he worked for the county, Baugh said she “lost trust” in his
professional judgment and penned a letter signed by five other board members
reprimanding him for his administrative approval of a public safety radio
tower at Kinnan Park that commissioners felt was sneaky and disingenuous.
Retired Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker is running against
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh to represent Manatee’s District 5, which
encompasses East Manatee, Lakewood Ranch and Myakka City.
“(Your actions) clearly demonstrated a lack of follow-thru that the County
Commissioners requested from the Administration and Staff resulting in
insubordination. This created a major lack of trust of the elected
officials, administration and staff by the general public,” she wrote.
In 2016, Baugh voted in favor of a motion to start a national search for a
new county administrator, instead of renewing Hunzeker’s contract. A lack of
suitable candidates, however, ultimately caused the board to extend the
contract to January 2019.
“I wish (Hunzeker) the best, and we’ll have a good time running,” Baugh said
Monday in an interview with the Bradenton Herald.
Both candidates are set to face off in the Republican primary election next
August. The winner will advance to the November 2020 general election if
there is a Democratic nominee and/or unaffiliated or write-in candidates.