Pasco candidate's residency questioned

PORT RICHEY — Nearly a month ago, John Ubele became a registered voter of Taylor County.

This was strange because Ubele, "operations manager" for a white separatist group, is running as an Independent candidate for House District 46, which represents west Pasco County.

It was also strange because his new address was 1111/2 East Green St. in downtown Perry — the location of a one-story commercial building that appears to be empty. The building most recently housed a small construction and real estate company that has moved out, according to Taylor County officials and downtown Perry business workers.

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with Ubele's move. State law requires legislators to live in their districts upon taking office. In his candidate oath, Ubele says he lives in Bayonet Point, but the oath is "interpreted as being a statement that is true and correct on Election Day, not at the time of its execution," said Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of State.

But isn't it … kind of weird?

Ubele, 30, who made an unsuccessful bid for Pasco County Mosquito Control board in 2006, was not anxious to shed much light on the mystery. He is back in Pasco County, living with his mother at her Greystone Drive condo in Bayonet Point.

"I had moved there, and I moved back," he said. "Case closed."

Ubele is a senior member of the Nationalist Coalition, a St. Petersburg-based white nationalist group.

He said he moved to Perry for "an opportunity," which he declined to describe. He said if elected, he would have moved back to his district as required by law.

He declined to explain why the address on Taylor County voter registration rolls was a commercial building, saying that such questions were "getting into my personal life."

"I believe the state is going into a depression," he said, "and you're giving me a hard time about my residency?"

Taylor County elections officials said Wednesday they had received driver's license information saying Ubele lived at the Perry address. So on Aug. 27, they informed officials in Pasco County, where Ubele was registered as a voter living on Greystone Drive in Bayonet Point.

Taylor County elections officials then added him to their rolls instead.

The landlord for the East Green Street building, Earl Swann, refused to say whether Ubele had been living at the downtown address.

"You need to ask him about that," Swann said.

Ubele is competing for the state House spot against incumbent John Legg, a Republican, and a Democratic challenger, Ron Rice. Legg, who also made headlines this year over splitting his time between his home in the district and his wife's home in Trinity, said he knew nothing about Ubele's change in residency.

"My only concern about him is his white supremacist views," Legg said.

By Wednesday afternoon, Ubele had sent an e-mail to the Pasco Times: "I fixed my residency as of this morning. ... I appreciate you bringing it to my attention."

Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley confirmed that Ubele had come in Wednesday morning and filled out a voter registration form saying he once again lived on Greystone Drive.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco candidate's residency questioned 09/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 26, 2008 8:55pm]

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