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Kenneth City candidate puts focus on spending

Ellen Dalbo, 55, has lived in Kenneth City for 23 years. She is a graduate of Gibbs High School.

Ellen Dalbo, 55, has lived in Kenneth City for 23 years. She is a graduate of Gibbs High School.

KENNETH CITY — One woman running for the Town Council says she wants to make sure tax money is being spent wisely.

"I'm running for the residents of Kenneth City," said Ellen Dalbo. "I believe that the residents' tax dollars are not being spent in the right way for our city."

Dalbo is one of three candidates running for the two open seats on the Kenneth City council. The others are Barbara Roberts, who, like Dalbo, is a first-time candidate, and incumbent Phil Redisch. Neither Roberts nor Redisch could be reached for comment.

Dalbo has become a familiar face at Town Council meetings over the past few months, speaking to issues that include questioning expenditures for the Police Department. Those expenditures include ballistic shields, heavy-duty weapons and SUVs rather than cars. She has also opposed a proposal to add a canine unit to the department's 12-officer force.

Although she has spoken to other issues, such as lighting in the parks, Dalbo said much of her focus has been on the Police Department "because of the way council is approving what I feel are unnecessary items."

Dalbo noted that Kenneth City Mayor Teresa Zemaitis has consistently been the lone voice on the council to speak against such expenditures. But Zemaitis has not been able to sway most of the other council members and has frequently found herself on the losing end of 4-1 votes. Dalbo said she believes the council needs at least two other members who are more willing to evaluate purchases and the reasons for them. With two more votes, some of the unnecessary expenditures, she said, could have been blocked.

Dalbo, 55, is a native of St. Petersburg who moved to Kenneth City 23 years ago. She is a graduate of Gibbs High School and attended St. Petersburg Junior College, now St. Petersburg College. She worked in the electrical data industry for 30 years, in the distribution of electrical products, data cable and connectors. Six years ago, she began working for the Pinellas County School District at 74th Street Elementary School in St. Petersburg as an exceptional education assistant working with autistic children. She has served as president of the Blanton Elementary School PTA and served on the board of Fossil Park Youth Baseball and Softball.

She is married, has two children, two dogs and a cat.

Kenneth City is located in the center of south Pinellas County between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. It divides the unincorporated Lealman area into two pieces. It had 4,980 residents in the 2010 census.

This year, residents voted to change their style of government to a council-manager format in which a professional manager oversees the daily running of the town. A council consisting of a mayor and four members set policy, pass a budget and hire the manager and a town attorney. The transition to the new format is scheduled to be complete before the March 11 election, meaning those who are elected will be the first to operate under the new form.

Council members serve two-year terms. They hold at least one meeting and one workshop a month and earn $300 a month. They run at-large and the two top vote-getters will take office.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450. Or follow her on Twitter @alindbergtimes.

Kenneth City candidate puts focus on spending 12/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 2:16pm]
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