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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

You're qualified to run for office - NOT!!! Must be Kenneth City election time again

24

December

KENNETH CITY - History seems to be repeating itself in this dot-sized town.

Kenneth City officials last week qualified Ron Neuberger to run for one of the two available council seats. Wednesday, they told Neuberger he's not qualified because he has not been a registered voter in the town for at least two years before signing up to run.

"Failure to provide documentation to the contrary will disqualify you from candidacy," Kenneth City Deputy Town Clerk Laura Owsley wrote in a certified letter to Neuberger.

The town's evidence: a statement from Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office that Neuberger made a phone call to that office on Dec. 15 to change his address from Pinellas Park to Kenneth City. That was three days before he picked up paper work to run for Town Council.

Neuberger said he has lived in Kenneth City for three years but forgot to change his voter registration.

"It was a complete slip," said Neuberger, a firefighter with Lealman Fire and Rescue.

Neuberger said he plans to fight for the right to run for the council until he has no more recourse.

Neuberger is running for one of two open seats on the council, which are held by Wanda Dudley and Al Carrier. Both are running for re-election. Also running is Joanne DeSimone. The two highest votegetters will go into office after the March 9 election.

Neuberger's situation is eerily reminiscent of the campaign earlier this year of Mayor Pro Tem Teresa Zemaitis. Zemaitis qualified to run for mayor only to be told later she could not run because, as a public school teacher, she was banned by the charter from serving. Zemaitis chose to stay in the race because it was too late then for anyone else to sign up and give voters a chance in the faceoff with then-Mayor Muriel Whitman.

Zemaitis won the election by a landslide but was disqualified by a court from serving. A settlement was reached wherein she would serve as mayor pro tem until this March when voters will have a chance to retroactively change the charter to allow public employees to serve as mayor.

Kenneth City has about 4,500 residents. It is about one square mile in area and is located along 54th Avenue N just east of 66th Street.

-- Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:21pm]

    

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