BRADENTON BEACH – Mayor-elect Bill shearon believes he has a vision for a better Bradenton Beach, and plans to see it come into being, despite a sizable obstacle.
People here elected him mayor with a vision for its future even though much of its charm including its white sandy beach Shearon can barely see. “I have retinitis pigmentosa,” he says. “It's a hereditary. My vision will never get better, and it could get worse.”
With his guide dog Reese, he will walk into the mayor's office, the first legally blind mayor in Florida, he believes. But in a town small enough to walk everywhere, he doesn't see that as a problem. “That's never been a concern. and not a hindrance. it takes me a little bit longer to read things, and that's probably my biggest problem,” he says.
Shearon hopes that serving as mayor will serve as an example for other people with disabilities that they don't have to stop them from accomplishing what they set out to do.
He has served as a city commissioner before, and ran for office to put the town's fiscal house in better order, after it needed tax hikes to make up for overspending. He knows he did not win a sympathy vote, and people will judge him on how he does the job. And already figures that his guide dog could become more popular than him. Is he ready for that? Shearon laughs. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, I am.”