Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Manatee County Commission District 1: Priscilla Whisenant Trace

Meet the candidate.

  • By
  • | 9:00 a.m. July 16, 2020
  • East County
  • News
  • Share

Name: Priscilla Whisenant Trace 

Age: 63

Family: Married to Craig Trace, one child, Blake 

Bio: Trace understands the depth and widespread concern of the residents of District 1. She was born and raised there, and she married and started her family in District 1, which is one of the geographically largest of the five commission districts and the most rural. Trace knows every highway, backroad and intersection in her district. 


Why are you running for office?

In 2016, I successfully ran and was elected to the Manatee County Commission, District 1. In the past four years, I was able to work on several important issues:

  • The NW Plan, which attracts new businesses and expands existing ones;
  • Improve traffic and roads;
  • Repair or add infrastructure; and
  • Develop public/private partnerships which benefit District 1 and the county at large.

I feel we have much more to do and would like the opportunity to continue representing District 1.

If elected, what will be your top three priorities during your term? 

  1. First and foremost, we must help stabilize and strengthen the economy. The impact COVID-19 has on our economy is yet to be known;
  2. Traffic and transportation continue to be ongoing issues that will need to be addressed as well as find solutions;
  3. Infrastructure plays a huge role in our quality of life. It is expensive and requires planning for the new and for the repairs for the older areas; and
  4. It is important for the county to continue long-term planning. For example: The landfill will need to be replaced in the next 20 to 25 years. It will take years of planning to find a new location and apply for the federal permits we will need to open a new landfill.

What role should the county play to increase the amount of workforce/affordable housing?

Workforce housing is crucial to our community. I support impact fee refunds to builders as density bonuses to developers who develop or include workforce/affordable housing in their communities.

What do you think the county’s role is in stimulating business in the aftermath of COVID-19?

As I mentioned, we have yet to fully assess the impact COVID-19 has on our economy. We do have programs, such as the coronavirus relief bill, to help. Also, the purpose of the NW Plan is to attract new businesses and provide incentives expand existing ones in the area surrounding Port Manatee. I have been the chair of Port Manatee for the past year and am looking forward to the success of the NW Plan. 

Jobs, infrastructure and the economy will be crucial as we recover and enter 2021.

What is your position on impact fees? Should they be raised? Why? Why not?

Impact fees are currently charged at 90% of the legal limit. I believe they should be raised to 100%. The last study was done in 2015, and the cost of materials and labor have increased significantly since then. We need to do another study to look at the current market and impact of development.

In what areas of County government spending do you think the County could cut expenses without hurting services? Would you support an increase in the millage rate to provide more services for County residents?

I absolutely do not support increasing the millage rate. The county is able to continue to provide direct services to the residents without increasing the millage rate. We have successfully continued to provide services through technology without reducing the overall quality. Example: Through MCUD the public is able to open, close an account or pay water bills online. Anyone with a library card can download a book online. We will continue to look at how the county can continue to efficiently provide services to the public.

The Legislature has enacted laws to reduce nutrient runoff. And local governments are expected to do their part. The County staff has introduced charging a new stormwater management fee to all property owners. What’s your position?

We need a small stormwater fee because we are lagging behind in the work that has to be done. With sea level rising, infill development is becoming harder and harder to safely manage stormwater runoff. I support a stormwater fee.

If elected, what will be your priorities on roads and transportation? How should the County commission address road capacity to handle future growth? 

For the past four years, improving roads and transportation have all been a priority in my district. Roads, road capacity and transportation are all intertwined and crucial to the quality of life in our community. In the past four years, we have added a much-needed stoplight at U.S. 301 and Rutledge Road in Parrish. The intersection at Leffingwell/Ellenton Gillette Road and 301 was constantly backed up. Working with the county staff and the Florida Department of Transportation, we were able to add left-hand turn lanes. Traffic now flows more easily and safely. In the near future the intersection of State Road 62 and Erie Road will be realigned and a traffic light added. Sidewalks were added along 121st Street and the area is more pedestrian friendly. 

Currently, the county and FDOT are planning to four lane Moccasin Wallow, which runs between Hillsborough and Parrish. Working with the county staff and FDOT requires funding from both, and we are planning more improvements in the future. Road improvements can also be made through public/private partnerships. If I am reelected, I will continue to work with the county staff, FDOT and private entities to identify areas, work through the plans and secure funding to make improvements to our roads and traffic.

Vacation rentals: How should they be regulated — locally, or by the ate? And if locally, by the County or municipalities? How would you regulate them?

I believe in home rule. We have six cities, and it is up to each one to deal with vacation rentals. The people in each city know what is best for their community. Short-term and vacation rentals in the unincorporated areas of Manatee County should require a license to operate and must pay sales/tourism tax for each rental. Occupants of vacation rentals must observe the same ordinances and laws as those who live in the area.


Related Articles