Like all candidates for elected office, Janet Long wants everyone to know her qualifications, so she lets people know on her website that she served as a Seminole council member, a state representative and "as Seminole's City Administrator."
But Seminole has never had such a position. And, while Long, who is running for County Commission, did work for Seminole for about 2½ years, city records indicate she never held that title.
Long said this week that she is sticking by her terminology.
"That's what they called me," she said.
But city records don't back that up. Seminole's records show she started work on Dec. 14, 1976, as an administrative assistant. Two weeks later, she was appointed acting city clerk, a job she held until March 1978, when she became the deputy clerk. By the time she left on April 24, 1979, she was again an administrative assistant.
Long blamed the discrepancy in titles on the time lapse.
"To be perfectly honest with you, it was so long ago. We didn't have business cards, we didn't have computers, we didn't have electronic (records) like we do today," she said. "I don't even remember that. It was just so long ago."
Long, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Neil Brickfield for the District 1 seat on the County Commission. The at-large seat is elected countywide.
Brickfield declined to comment about Long's website, janetforpinellas.com.
The general duties of a city clerk include preparing meeting and agenda packets for council meetings, taking and editing minutes of those council meetings, overseeing city elections and keeping track of public records.
But Long said her job duties went far beyond those. In those days, Seminole had a strong mayor form of government, which made that officeholder responsible for all the city's daily activities. Long said the mayor was seldom in City Hall, so she became responsible to make sure the town ran smoothly.
"My function there was to run the day-to-day operations of the city," Long said.
Long has already come under fire during this campaign. On the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she told members of the Tampa Bay Times editorial board that firefighters use the tragedy to get better salaries, pensions and other benefits.
Later the same day, she told a reporter that firefighters were "never satisfied" when it came to negotiating contracts and benefit packages.
Long has since said her words were taken out of context of a larger conversation and has apologized for the timing and wording of her comments.
Regarding the wording of her website, Long said she does not believe the title she used is misleading or confusing to people who might interpret "Seminole's city administrator" as being the city manager.
"Of course, I wasn't the city manager," she said. "I don't see that they're anywhere near synonymous. It doesn't say I was the city manager. If I was the city manager, I would be putting that I was the city manager. I was the city administrator."
She also said the title was not an effort to puff up her qualifications.
"I don't really think I need to add anything to my resume," Long said. "Being on the City Council and a state legislator and running for the County Commission (speaks to) my abilities."
Long dismissed the issue as being petty, saying there are much more important things to focus on "like putting fluoride back in the water."
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.