From Lealman: Deborah Clark, bad hair, arson dog and postal complaints
If you want real fireworks, forget Obama, McCain, Biden and Palin. Look no further than Lealman where candidates for the Fire Commission are making junk yard dogs look tame. Click below for a report of Wednesday's meeting of the Lealman Community Association.
The meeting started innocently enough with the organization's traditional pre-election visit from Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark. After Clark had finished discussing the new voting machines and urging folks to go to the polls, LCA president Ray Neri praised her, saying he did not understand how anybody could run against her. Clark trotted back to the front of the room to assure people that she does indeed have opposition, Democrat Jack Killingsworth.
"I do (have opposition)," Clark said. "I promise I do. Why would I make something like this up?"
Audience members also heard from Neil Brickfield and Nancy Bostock, two Republicans running for different seats on the Pinellas County Commission. After that, Lealman Fire Commissioners Julie Adams and Vivian Diane Campbell came forward to talk about the new equipment the district is buying and to say they have been good stewards of the tax dollar.
Adams' opponent, Robert Payne, was not there. But John Frank, who is running against Campbell was. Frank, who is easily recognized by his unruly hairstyle, started with a joke, saying, "I'm having a bad hair day, but that's nothing a haircut won't fix."
Then Frank launched a broadside against Campbell, charging that she had filed numerous complaints against him falsely alleging that he is not a Lealman resident. Fire Commission members must live in Lealman and Frank was kicked off the board a few years ago because fellow commissioners did not believe he lives in the district.
Frank followed that with accusations that the board was spending more money than the community could stomach on silly things, such as an arson dog.
Campbell demanded a chance to "refute" Frank's accusations.
"Well, why don't we have a debate?" Neri asked. "Come on up. This is democracy in action."
Much of what followed was out of microphone range, but Campbell could be heard defending herself and denying Frank's charges. There was a reference to the fact that some believe Frank lives in a "shed" on his property.
Frank argued back and accused the husband of Lealman fire board member Kathleen Litton of misdelivering his mail when Frank was not home. Litton, who was in the back of the room, defended her postal worker husband: "My husband may have tried to deliver mail to your shed (but took it back after a neighbor) said, 'He does not live there.'"
"Now you know why I don't run for office," Neri said.
This is far from the last skirmish in the hotly contested race. The LCA will hold a candidates' forum at its Oct. 1 meeting. Candidates for a variety of offices have accepted an invitation to appear, but it's a sure bet that the main firefight of the evening will come from the Campbell-Frank race. If it gets fiery enough, they might have to call in the arson dog.
Full story in Sunday's Neighborhood Times.
By Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer