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Manatee County Commissioner announces she won't seek reelection

Betsy Benac won't pursue reelection but former County Administrator Ed Hunzeker announced he will run for the at-large seat instead of facing Vanessa Baugh in District 5.

Betsy Benac
Betsy Benac
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Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac has announced she will not seek re-election in November due to some family health issues.

"I absolutely was going to run," Benac said. "I was fundraising. This was something that was a quick and recent decision."

Benac said her decision had nothing to do with citizens' angry reactions to commission directives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is not in any way about the heat I have been taking," she said. "This was a personal decision I had to make to put my family first. We got some news that no one ever wants to hear."

Benac, who currently is serving as board chair, has been an at-large commissioner since 2012.

“My family is the most important thing to me, and now, more than ever, I need to focus on them," Benac said. "It has been an honor to serve the great people of Manatee County for the last eight years and I am grateful for the community support that I have received along the way.

"I will serve out my term. I've had to make some big-girl decisions. This was not an easy one.”

Benac's decision had a Domino effect on the upcoming election as former Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker announced he would run for Benac's at-large position. Hunzeker had filed to run for a District 5 seat against incumbent Vanessa Baugh.

Ed Hunzeker
Ed Hunzeker

Hunzeker said his direction had changed in the last 48 hours as he had been preparing to face Baugh. He had asked Benac when he filed to run last November if she was going to run for reelection and she told him she would. He said running for the at-large seat was his first choice.

"But we are friends and I didn't want to run against her so I filed to run in the district where I live," he said.

In the past two days, that changed as Benac decided not to run again.

Hunzeker said voters will find that his philosophies are well aligned with those of Benac.

"First and foremost, we have a conservative approach to growth," he said.

Benac said she agreed with Hunzeker's assessment and noted that "he would be a good addition to the board."

Saying "it's a tough business," Hunzeker said his experience will help guide Manatee County out of a tough situation.

“My experience, especially during these unprecedented times, is best suited to represent the entire county," Hunzeker said. "I served Manatee County (as administrator) for over 10 years (2007-2019) and helped lead us through the great recession. We can and will get through this together.”

Hunzeker, a Republican, said he will bring conservative principles to the commission, if elected.

“I know Manatee County inside and out,” Hunzeker said. “I have the experience needed to keep our county on the right track.”

Henzeker's decision to run for the at-large berth leaves Baugh unopposed at this point. The deadline to run for a commission seat is June 12.






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