MANATEE COUNTY — Longtime Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Donna Hayes announced she no longer will run for re-election.
Shortly after a traffic crash Jan. 11, in which the Florida Highway Patrol cited Hayes for careless driving and failing to immediately report a crash, Hayes told media she would not run for re-election.
The announcement comes about one year after a similar one in January 2011. Six months later, in June 2011, she re-entered the race.
However, Hayes, now in her eighth year in office, said the decision is final.
“I am 69 and never had interest in continuing,” Hayes said. “In fact, I was retiring 10 years ago, but I love Manatee County. I have been a community leader for 32 years, so my motives are clear.”
Hayes faced harsh criticism following the traffic crash. According to FHP reports, on Jan. 11, Hayes was heading westbound on State Road 70 in her 2009 Cadillac. As she approached Third Street, she rear-ended a Honda Odyssey driven by Ruth Demha, 42.
Hayes left Demha with her contact information before indicating she was late for a hair appointment and feeling ill. Hayes traveled to her hairdresser’s home. She was then transported to Blake Medical Center as a precautionary measure.
Damages to Haye’s vehicle were estimated at $150, and damages to Demha’s vehicle were estimated at $500. Neither woman sustained injuries from the accident.
District 5 Republican candidate Vanessa Baugh said she wishes Hayes well.
“It is a shame that Donna’s service to the community had to end on this note,” Baugh said. “I hope the people will judge her on her years of service and not on recent events. ... I wish her well.”
Although Hayes has said she will not run again, as of press time Tuesday, she still was listed as a candidate on the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website. To formally withdraw from the race, Hayes must submit her intent to do so in writing.
Additionally, Democrat James T. Golden, of Bradenton, officially entered the District 5 Commission race against Baugh Jan. 13. Golden, who ran against U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in 2010 for Florida’s 13th District congressional seat, is a four-term Bradenton City Council member, a Manatee County Democratic Committeeman for Precinct 105 and a former chairman of the 13th Congressional District Caucus.
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