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Community activist files to challenge St. Petersburg City Council chairman

ST. PETERSBURG — Community activist Sharon Russ briefly ran for mayor in 2009 but now may challenge City Council Chairman Karl Nurse for his District 6 council seat.

Russ, 52, filed the paperwork to run, but said she isn't sure she will follow through.

"I'm not really sure if I'm going to run or not," she said. "The odds are against me."

Russ said Nurse and council member Wengay Newton haven't done enough to improve jobs, education and juvenile delinquency for the city's poorest residents.

In 2009, she dropped out of the mayor's race before the qualifying period started.

In 2004, Russ lost a race to Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who won with 65 percent of the vote. She also began a bid for City Council in 1999 but never qualified.

She moved to the city about 15 years ago and earned an associate in arts degree from St. Petersburg College in 2002. The single mother of three grown children is currently pursuing a four-year degree.

She earned a reputation as an outspoken activist by chastising city leaders for being too lax on crime.

She also lambasted the city's cozy network of political elites and business leaders at community forums and meetings across Pinellas County.

She's also had minor brushes with the law.

She was arrested in Tallahassee in 1995 for driving with a license that had been suspended because of failure to pay a fine. She struggled with the officer and also was charged with resisting arrest, according to a police report. Adjudication of guilt was withheld.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

Community activist files to challenge St. Petersburg City Council chairman 02/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 12:18am]
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