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Candidate banks on experience

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  • | 11:00 a.m. March 18, 2016
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Steve Jonsson, who ran a community bank in the recession, has found another job that requires him to prove he's better than the competition: a run for public office.

Jonsson recently decided to enter the race for Manatee County commissioner, after District 3 incumbent John Chappie decided not to run for re-election. The district represents parts of west Bradenton and Anna Maria Island. The other announced candidate for the seat is financial planner and U.S. Army Veteran Matt Bower, running as an independent.

A west Bradenton resident who has lived in Manatee County since 1977, Jonsson says he brings an outsider's perspective to the campaign. He also brings experience with adversity, given regulators shuttered the bank he co-founded and ran for a decade, Bradenton-based Flagship National Bank, in 2009 after some real estate loans went sour. Experiences like that, he says, will prepare him for the campaign and for being an elected official.

Jonsson, a Republican, is also is tapping into a theme of the presidential election, the same theme that helped get Florida Gov. Rick Scott elected twice: bringing a businessman's know-how to public office. “I've always been involved in politics, but I'm a private person,” he tells Coffee Talk. “I'm not a politician. I think as a non-politician I can bring a fresh set of eyes to problems.”

Jonsson says he specifically considers traffic congestion, roads and development the biggest issues Manatee County residents face now and in the future. Bower also considers those issues important, so much so he led public opposition to a proposed waterfront development, Long Bar Pointe, in northwest Bradenton in 2014. “I'm not anti-growth,” Bower says. “I'm smart growth. I'm not going to be the guy who rubber stamps development.”


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