ST. PETERSBURG — Carolyn Fries, one of three candidates seeking the District 4 City Council seat, said her opponents should drop out of the race since they don't live in the district.
The Tampa Bay Times found Thursday that while Dr. David McKalip and Darden Rice have both rented homes in the newly redrawn district they don't actually sleep there.
Fries said she applauds Rice and McKalip's "honesty in admitting" they don't live in the district and said they shouldn't try to circumvent the city's election rules.
"I think they should drop out," Fries said.
In a news release, she added: "I've enjoyed the back and forth on ideas and positions that we've had as a group, and I'll miss future opportunities to contrast our differing visions for St. Petersburg and District 4."
Not so fast, the candidates said.
"I will remain in the race as I am a legal resident," McKalip said.
Rice added: "I will continue to campaign strongly in this race as I fulfill all legal requirements of residency."
Early Friday morning, Fries said she would not challenge McKalip and Rice's residencies to keep them off the ballot.
The Redistricting Commission, she said, should not be allowed to alter district boundaries in an election year. The city charter requires candidates to live in a district for 12 months prior to the primary, which is Aug. 27.
Fries narrowed her stance later in the day, saying she and residents "trust the city will do their due diligence to make sure all candidates in all districts are meeting all the requirements needed to qualify for public office."
One resident is baffled at the backlash from the story published Friday.
Tom Calahan lives two houses from where Rice said she lives on 24th Avenue. He told a reporter that the home is vacant and that the owners are still moving possessions from the home.
He called the backlash disturbing, but said he isn't deterred.
"For me, both (Rice and McKalip) have eliminated themselves as someone I would vote for," Calahan told the Times. "For me, candidates like them are not interested in performing good government. They are only interested in what the office can do for them."
Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected]