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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Teacher refuses to quit job or Kenneth City mayor's race



KENNETH CITY - Former Town Council member Teresa Zemaitis will not drop out of the race for Kenneth City mayor and will not quit her teaching job, despite being told she needs to choose between the two.

The Kenneth City town charter prohibits the mayor from holding "other public office or public employment during the term." Town officials say Zemaitis is a public employee because she teaches reading to 10th graders at Dixie Hollins High School. That makes her unqualified to run for office, they say.

Town clerk Nancy Beelman gave Zemaitis a choice Thursday: Quit your job or get out of the race.

This morning, Zemaitis called Beelman with her decision: She will stay in the race and keep her teaching job. Any decision about resigning her position would come only if she is elected.

St. Petersburg lawyer Bruce Howie, chairman of the Pinellas ACLU legal panel, said Zemaitis has the charter on her side.

"She can run for office and then if she's elected, the way I read it, that's when she has to make her decision," Howie said.

Howie raised other questions about the charter provision, including whether it violates the state Constitution.

Zemaitis, 40, is challenging incumbent Muriel Whitman, 83, for the mayor's seat. The election is March 10.

Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:43am]


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