SRQ Magazine | April 2017
Mayor Wayne Poston, just sworn in to a fourth term at Bradenton City Hall, has spent decades now in the Friendly City. He rose to the position of executive editor at the Bradenton Herald before running for office and becoming a newsmaker himself, and through it all, he developed a reputation as a taskmaster. “I always tell my staff the Chinese proverb, ‘Talk doesn’t cook rice.’ Let’s not talk forever about everything and just get things done,” he says. So what gives him that signature drive?
My mom lived to age 94. She had a fourth-grade education and grew up in Southeast Ohio in a family of coal miners, and I knew I didn’t want to do that in my life. She wanted the best for us. My mom was a person who knew how to get along and was happy.
My mother told me the secret to happiness was knowing when you are well off. I’ve stayed in Bradenton a long time because you can’t get any better off than this. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to move elsewhere but there is no better place to live than Bradenton. It has a small-town feel, a nice community and a number of professional sports that play here—everything I’ve ever looked for in life.
I do all the grocery shopping and cooking in my house. The best thing I make is an ossobuco—an Italian roast. Mine is not made with a red sauce; it’s still a veal shank, but I use a lemon broth, and it’s more of a Bolognese—a brown sauce with lemon and sometimes mushrooms—depending on how I feel. I’ve been making that for 15 or 20 years. I had it in a restaurant one time, and I thought that would be better without a red sauce, so I just started with the experimentation and putting in my own brand.
My First Classified Ad
One of things I did as a young editor at the paper, when I was first in charge of a newsroom and knew I didn’t know what I was doing, I put out a classified ad saying: “A young businessman in a pretty big job needs help,” and that I was looking for mentors. Eight responded, and I picked two who helped me. They are still around, so I don’t want to use their names, but they were very helpful to me.
I was in for four years. You remember it as a positive experience. You are serving your country, you participate in a military organization and you are part of a chain of command. It teaches you honesty and you learn discipline. It helps establish in your mind what is really important. And you learn how much you love this country. It also teaches you some of the things you don’t like. For me, I learned I don't like to dress the same way all of the time.
I’ve always surrounded myself with strong women. The best thing to ever happen to me was my wife Micki. She is a nurse, a wonderful caregiver, my pal and best friend—and also my biggest critic. But it's not in a difficult way because she keeps me grounded. We met because she was friends with a girl I was dating—they went to nursing school together. Then there was a time when we were both between dating. We’ve spent 25 years together. My son from a previous marriage thought we were just right together immediately. He was right.
I like reading biographies of all my heroes: John Kennedy, Winston Churchill, John Adams—those kinds of folks. They are all just terrific people, but most importantly, they did things they weren’t supposed to do, and got things done when nobody thought they knew what they were doing. They surprised everybody by being better than anticipated.
Sitting down with a Cuban cigar, I’ve found, is a great way to relax and know what you are doing in life. A friend just got back from Cuba and brought a stash of cigars, so I’m a happy guy right now. I like to have a cigar and think about what I did that day, whether what I did made any sense and think about what I should do tomorrow.
Janet Reed Collection
I’ve been a member of the art guild for years; I collect Manatee County artists, and specifically I collect Janet Reed. She and her husband founded the art league here, and we’ve done a show at the ArtCenter Manatee with just the paintings I have of Janet’s. A lot of Manatee artists were very good. Sarasota was always thought of as the artist colony but there are very good artists here as well. Herbie Rose is from the islands, a Jamaican artist, and I made him unofficial mayor of our Village of the Arts.
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