Motion to remove Manatee County commission chair fails 4-3 after Lakewood Ranch event

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Manatee County commissioners voted against removing Vanessa Baugh from her role as chair of the commission following her role in opening an exclusive and controversial state-run vaccine clinic in Lakewood Ranch.

Protesters gathered outside the county government building Tuesday morning calling for her resignation.

“They work for us. They need to be reminded of that. I am a registered voter I have voted all my life ever since I first could and they need to remember who they serve,” said protester Mary Conway.

Baugh worked with the state to organize a vaccine clinic solely for residents of the 34202 and 34211 zip codes, which covers most of the Manatee County portion of Lakewood Ranch and other wealthier neighborhoods in East Manatee County.

Normally, Manatee County’s wait list program randomly selects residents to sign up for a vaccine, but according to emails obtained via public records request, Baugh’s staff manipulated the database to pull only residents from those two zip codes.

“I do believe that we need to make sure there are some consequences here,” Commissioner Reggie Bellamy said before initiating motion to remove Baugh.” This is about supporting our constituents and making sure that as public servants, we stand for what is right and we make sure that whatever takes place, something like this cannot be done again.”

Commissioners Carol Whitmore and Misty Servia joined Bellamy in voting to remove Baugh, but were ultimately outnumbered 4-3.

Commissioner George Kruse said it’s time for the commission to move forward.

“We keep trying to find ways to distract ourselves to the detriment of the people of Manatee County, to the taxpayers and citizens of Manatee County and it needs to stop collectively. I hope this is the breaking point of it stopping,” said Kruse.

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