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Candidate says she will move before election

Published Oct. 8, 2005

(ran NS, S editions of TAMPA BAY AND STATE)

Dee Billings, state Senate candidate in District 22, said Thursday that she will find a new home before Election Day.

Billings, who lives north of the district line in Palm Harbor, is the Democrat challenging Sen. Don Sullivan.

She said Thursday that she will begin to look for a place to live somewhere within the district, which stretches along the Pinellas coast from Pass-a-Grille to Caladesi Island. Billings, 52, currently lives in an apartment on Alt. U.S. 19, 8 miles north of the boundary.

Billings, who works for Humana Health Care in Tampa, said she knew when she filed to challenge Sullivan she was not living within the district borders and had always planned to move if she won. Now she will move sooner, she said.

"I've been campaigning very hard and haven't had a lot of time to look for a place," Billings said. "I want to move in but I don't think it hampers me to be 8 miles away."

One possible new home surfaced Thursday when a Treasure Island woman read a newspaper article about Billings' plight.

Betsy Robertson, who has lived in District 22 for four years, said she would be happy to share her %% WARNING %%house with Billings.

The Florida law requiring Billings to move into the district before election day "is petty," Ms. Robertson said.

Sullivan, R-Seminole, sees it differently.

"I don't think a person who neither lives nor works in the district can possibly represent it," said Sullivan, 58, an orthopedic surgeon who has lived in the district 22 years.