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Oldsmar City Council candidate admits drug arrest

Correction appended

OLDSMAR — City Council candidate and Planning Board member Sara Normandeau this week acknowledged she has been arrested on drug offenses.

But she pleaded no contest to the three 1990 offenses and adjudication was withheld.

Normandeau said they occurred when she was "in a different period in my life.''

"All people fall short, (but) there is redemption if you choose a better path in life,'' said the 40-year-old mother of two.

She is running for Seat 3 on the City Council against Doug Bevis, 45, a civil engineer and country radio personality on WFUS-FM 103.5, in the March 10 election.

Normandeau and her first husband, David Baxley, were arrested in September 1990 and charged with possession of marijuana, Valium, cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

She said the couple owned a landscape business in Hillsborough County at the time, and one of their workers was a member of a local band. One night, they went to see the group, called Machine, play and afterward invited band members and other people to a party at their house.

She said among the group of people was an undercover cop.

"We got caught up in the investigation of an employee,'' Normandeau said.

She admitted she did ''smoke pot at 21,'' but said she "was not a drug addict having issues.'' She said band members brought the cocaine, which she described as "residue." As for the Valium, she said her ex-husband had a prescription for it.

According to arrest records, the search turned up 59.5 grams of marijuana, less than 1 gram of cocaine and three Valium tablets.

The Valium charge was later dropped.

Normandeau served less than one day in jail, 50 hours' community service and 18 months' probation.

"The experience put my life on a different path,'' she said. "It was better.''

She went on to get her associate's degree at Hillsborough Community College and took some courses at the University of South Florida.

She has been married twice more, having two children with her second husband, Thomas Endres.

She has been married to Michael Normandeau for nearly six years. He owns a development called Bungalow Bay Estates and several rental properties in Oldsmar and Tampa.

Sara Normandeau now works in marketing and recruiting for a medical staffing company. Previously, she was a mortgage banker and in residential construction and development. She is immediate past treasurer for the Oldsmar Little League and is chairwoman of the Oldsmar Charter Review Committee.

She said she told her children about her past and warns them to be cautious in their own lives.

"While the (drug) charge is 19 years old, it never really becomes irrelevant in our society,'' she said. "It's important to take the lessons learned from our own mistakes and teach those to our children.

"It is also important to teach our children that you can make mistakes, learn from them and become better people because of the consequences paid. There is redemption in learning from your mistakes and choosing a better path in life.''

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Correction

City Council candidate and Planning Board member Sara Normandeau was not convicted of any drug offenses as a result of her arrest in 1990. She pleaded no contest to three offenses and adjudication was withheld. She served less than a full day in jail. The original version that appeared on tampabay.com was incorrect on those points.

Oldsmar City Council candidate admits drug arrest 02/25/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 3:33pm]
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