Activist Lorraine Margeson's bid to challenge St. Petersburg council member Jim Kennedy raises residency issues for other candidates
The problem: A few months ago a city commission redrew council maps and moved her home out of District 3 and into District 2. The city's charter requires candidates to live in a district for 12 months before an election. The primary is Aug. 27.
Margeson, one leader of the Stop the Lens movement, has lived in the same house in the Mangrove Bay neighborhood for the past 12 years.
"It's a total mess, not of my making," Margeson said Tuesday.
"I'm subject to a perjury charge. I did not take kindly that they threatened criminal action for stepping up to the plate. That's total disenfranchisement language."
Another residency issue surfaced last month in District 4.
Candidates Dr. David McKalip and Darden Rice both criticized the redistricting process earlier this year and vowed to move in order to seek office.
The Tampa Bay Times found last month that both had rented homes in the newly redrawn district District 4, but were still living in District 3. Both vowed to eventually move to District 4.
Carolyn Fries, a third candidate, called on the city to make sure it investigates whether Rice and McKalip are eligible for the ballot.
In most elections, the residency issue doesn't come up. The Redistricting Commission, however, changed district boundaries this year as a result of population declines from the 2010 census.
ST. PETERSBURG — City activist Lorraine Margeson wants to run against Jim Kennedy for his District 2 council seat.
However, city officials appear to be trying to stop her.
Margeson said city official warned her Monday that she could face a criminal perjury charge if she signs a campaign affidavit required to run against Kennedy.
The controversy over whether to build the $50 million Lens is the hottest topic in the city and among the candidates seeking the mayor's office and four City Council seats. The divisive issue could split votes and make or break candidates in the August primary.
Until Margeson filed, Kennedy, a Lens supporter, had no opponent.
Margeson said people had asked her to challenge Kennedy, but she always told them she lived in another district. She found out that changed last week — courtesy of the mailman.
She received a new voter identification card, showing she now lives in District 2. Her inner circle of friends and husband encouraged her to enter the race.
When asked if he would challenge Margeson's residency status, Kennedy declined to comment until he can learn more facts.
Council chairman Karl Nurse said said Tuesday that the city shouldn't expect people to change addresses the day new boundary lines take place. The lines, he said, should not have been redrawn in an election year.
"I frankly think that they should be allowed to run," he said. "We created this impossible situation. I don't think we have any options."
Margeson, also a well-known a well-known environmental activist, said she isn't deterred. She says lawyers have already contacted her in case Kennedy or someone else tries blocking her from the ballot.
"You can't complain unless you're ready to step up to the plate," she said. "I'm not all talk and no action."