Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Activist Margeson's bid to challenge St. Petersburg council member Kennedy raises residency issues

ST. PETERSBURG — Even though she says city officials tried to stop her, city activist Lorraine Margeson will challenge Jim Kennedy for his District 2 City Council seat.

Chief Assistant Attorney Mark Winn warned her Monday that she could face a criminal perjury charge if she declared District 2 as her residence for the past year, Margeson says.

The problem: A city redistricting commission redrew council maps in March and moved her home out of District 3 and into District 2.

The city's charter requires candidates to sign an affidavit swearing they have lived in a district for 12 months before an election — in this case, the Aug. 27 primary.

Margeson, 56, who is a leader of the Stop the Lens movement, has lived in the same house in Mangrove Bay for 12 years.

"It's a total mess, not of my making," Margeson said Tuesday. "I did not take kindly that they threatened criminal action for stepping up to the plate. That's total disenfranchisement language."

Winn disputes that. He said he cautioned Margeson that signing the affidavit would mean she was affirming the information is true. He said he encouraged her to speak with an attorney before signing the form.

Still, city lawyers will not block her candidacy, Winn added.

"Anybody who has legal standing could challenge her," Winn said. "It's not something this office would raise."

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 move to District 4.

Carolyn Fries, a third candidate, called on the city to investigate whether Rice and McKalip meet election requirements.

Council chairman Karl Nurse said Tuesday that the city shouldn't expect people to move the day new boundaries are created. And redistricting should not have occurred in an election year, he added.

"I frankly think that they should be allowed to run," Nurse said. "I don't think we have any options."

In most elections, residency issues don't surface. The Redistricting Commission, however, changed district boundaries this year as a result of population declines from the 2010 census.

The issue could get dicier if challenges arise.

The city doesn't "verify the accuracy of that affidavit" but relies on candidates to be truthful, Winn wrote in a memo this year.

The $50 million Lens is the hottest topic among candidates seeking the mayor's office and four City Council seats. The divisive issue could split votes and make or break candidates in the primary.

Until Margeson filed, Kennedy, a Lens supporter, had no opponent.

Margeson said people had asked her to enter the race, 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. Close friends and her husband then encouraged her to run.

When asked if he would challenge Margeson's status, Kennedy declined to comment.

Margeson, also a well-known environmental activist, said lawyers have volunteered to help if Kennedy or someone else tries to block 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."

Activist Margeson's bid to challenge St. Petersburg council member Kennedy raises residency issues 06/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  2. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  3. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  4. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  5. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.