Congressional candidate Kathleen Peters juggles tons? Or too much?
ST. PETERSBURG — The fire engine's horn blasted as it rolled down a street of aging cinder block houses and double-wide mobile homes, most surrounded by rusted chain-link fences. State Rep. Kathleen Peters, peeking out the window, sat behind the driver. She wore a Christmas-red, waist-length stocking cap that matched her lipstick and fingernails.
The engine stopped, and Peters climbed out into the Lealman neighborhood. She walked back to a U-Haul truck and approached a pair of firefighters unloading toys.
"Can I deliver the bike?" she asked, pointing to a small pink one with training wheels and "Lil Gem" on the handlebars. She lugged it up the street and approached a dark-haired girl wearing a purple sweater and no shoes. "Where's Madison?" she said. "I have something for Madison."
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It was hard to tell on that Christmas Eve morning, her eyes clear and smile wide, that Peters' life outside of that moment had for months ranged from hectic to chaotic. A bid for federal office, alone, could throw anyone's life into disarray, but her political candidacy had not been the sole challenge.
In early July, Peters' father, who is 84, asked her to stay the night at his Treasure Island home. He didn't want to be alone.
"He has Parkinson's," she said recently. "And it's winning."