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City council candidates Rice, McKalip face residency challenge

ST. PETERSBURG — The former president of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club wants two City Council candidates blocked from the Aug. 27 primary ballot.

James Donelon is accusing District 4 council candidates Darden Rice and David McKalip of filing a "false oath of candidate in violation of the St. Petersburg City Charter."

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

Donelon filed the request Tuesday with the city clerk, the Pinellas-Pasco state attorney, the Pinellas County supervisor of elections and the Florida Commission on Ethics.

His challenge follows a story published last month in the Tampa Bay Times detailing how Rice and McKalip had rented homes in the newly redrawn district District 4 but were still living in District 3.

Donelon's request might not go far.

City Clerk Eva Andujar said that her duties are administrative and that she cannot investigate residency issues. Candidates swear the information is true when signing the affidavits, she said.

"His only avenue is to go through the court system," she said Wednesday. "There's nothing I can do."

Donelon, 69, said Wednesday that he will not pursue the issue in court.

But Rice, McKalip and city officials are not following the law, he said, adding: "They should do something about this."

Residency issues surfaced because the city redistricting commission redrew council maps in March.

McKalip and Rice criticized the redistricting process earlier this year after being drawn out of District 4. They vowed to move in order to seek office.

They both said they followed election law by "establishing a residence" in the new district, even while not living in the new residence.

When another residency issue arose Tuesday in District 2, Rice maintained she followed the law.

"The redistricting process has been a fiasco," Rice said. "I have followed the rules every step of the way."

McKalip agreed, saying: "I maintain my residence is legal. The system is flawed."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

City council candidates Rice, McKalip face residency challenge 06/19/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:05pm]
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