CLEARWATER — A fifth candidate has qualified to run for Clearwater City Council, creating a three-way race for incumbent Bill Jonson's seat.
Konrad McCree Jr., 29, was deemed qualified by City Clerk Rosemarie Call after county election officials found two questionable signatures during a review of his 250 signed petition cards. After consulting with city attorneys, Call ruled in McCree's favor.
McCree dropped off his cards a few hours before the qualifying period ended Dec. 13.
He'll face off for Seat 4 against Jonson and David Allbritton, who recently resigned as chairman of the Downtown Development Board.
McCree said he wants to represent the interests of younger residents, focusing on preserving middle-class jobs and affordable housing in the city.
He also wants to be a local advocate for flood insurance relief. Although the City Council has limited power to effect change in the federal law that raised insurance premiums by huge margins in the Tampa Bay area, McCree said he thinks residents deserve a voice on City Council that will lobby for a just resolution of the issue.
"I intend for my voice to be heard," McCree said.
In 2006, McCree was charged with a misdemeanor for writing a bad check for what he said was a $30 grocery tab at Publix. He had recently moved to Orlando and failed to update his address. He said he was unaware of the bounced check until he was already in the court system.
He completed his probation a few months later, according to court records.
McCree is a minister of the nondenominational Simply Kingdom Ministries, which has about 100 members. He is also a senior business analyst at WellCare Health Plans Inc.
Allbritton, 63, said an attempt to unseat a well-known incumbent is always more difficult with two challengers, who might divide any opposition vote.
"But I'm not worried about it. My strategy hasn't changed. I'm working it real hard anyway," he said.
Jonson, 69, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The other open council seat, Seat 5, to be vacated by term-limited Vice Mayor Paul Gibson, will be contested by former council member Hoyt Hamilton and newcomer Jon-Paul Rosa.
All positions on the City Council are elected citywide. The election is March 11.
Times researchers Carolyn Edds and Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Charlie Frago can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago