The businessperson-runs-for-elected-office trend continues to proliferate.
The latest is longtime Manatee County banker Charlie Conoley, running for the District 3 seat of the Manatee County School Board. His opponents are incumbent Dave Miner and Misty Servia, a planning department manager with King Engineering Associates. Conoley tells Coffee Talk he pays especially close attention to how the board handles fiscal matters, and it could use more people who are well qualified, not just well meaning.
“With a $780 million budget,” asks Conoley, “Do we want people with no financial experience making decisions?”
Conoley is currently a vice president at Parrish-based 1st Manatee Bank, where he mostly works with SBA and USDA rural development loans. In addition to his financial experience, Conoley says another facet he brings is an ability to “work with people in a board setting.”
Conoley's banking career goes back to 1988, when he was a senior credit officer with Barnett Bank in Manatee County. In 1998 he founded and ran Bradenton-based Horizon Bank. Saying the bank was undercapitalized, regulators shuttered Horizon in 2010, when it had $188 million in assets. Little Rock, Ark.-based Bank of the Ozarks assumed Horizon's assets and most of its deposits.
Conoley was one of several bankers at the helm of a bank that didn't make it out of the recession. But he was one of the rare ones who spoke out against state and federal banking officials who made the decision to close the bank. In an October 2010 interview with the Business Observer, Conoley said the bank only needed more time to work out capital and loan issues, and it didn't pose any danger to customers. He says it was shuttered because regulators sought to get rid of any community bank that looked shaky so they could be seen as problem-solvers.
“I still have a hard time viewing this as a failed bank,” Conoley said in 2010. “I view it as a hostile takeover. A very hostile takeover.”