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CRITIC BECOMES A CANDIDATE

Curtis Holmes, no stranger to City Hall, wants the commission seat that Gay Gentry will be vacating.

He's pointed fingers at city leaders. He's filed ethics complaints against them. He's called for an investigation of those who knew about former City Manager Steve Stanton's plans to become a woman.

Now Curtis Holmes wants to be one of them.

"I've got the experience. I know how the city operates," said Holmes, who announced plans Friday to run for the City Commission.

A common fixture at city meetings for several years, Holmes is eying Seat 6, which will be vacated by Commissioner Gay Gentry when her term expires in November.

Louis "Woody" Brown, a local chiropractor and chairman of the city's Recreation, Parks and Arts Advisory Board, plans to campaign for the same seat.

Holmes, who moved to Largo in 1978, said he knows Largo's problems and how to fix them, "I'm not going to have any learning curve," he said.

Holmes, 57, runs an insurance agency and a company that sells whoopee cushions.

At virtually every meeting, Holmes dishes out advice.

Recently, he criticized city leaders' decision to pay $60,000 to build a memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said the money would be better used to build sidewalks. Plus, he claimed, the city could be sued for discrimination if it denied a request to build a monument for someone else, such as the late President Reagan.

He's questioned some of the city's legal bills and urged city leaders to hire an auditor.

He's clashed with Mayor Pat Gerard and former Mayor Bob Jackson, filing state ethics complaints against both.

But Holmes has since mended fences with Jackson, backing him in the 2006 election and joining him in a request to investigate those, including Gerard and a handful of city employees, who knew about Stanton's secret plan to change his gender.

In recent months, Holmes was the subject of a now-closed Largo police inquiry. Commissioner Rodney Woods told police that Holmes threatened to expose "dirt" on him if he didn't resign. Holmes, who denied making threats, told police the two discussed a reclaimed water project.

"It is good that people who want to be involved in the city do more than just talk, but take some action," said Woods, reacting to the news about Holmes. "Then the public will decide if their talk is in the direction (residents) want their city to go."

Holmes classified the commission as a "pretty good team."

But if he's elected, would he be able to get along with those he's had friction with?

"Wait and see," Holmes said. "I can't speculate on that."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at 445-4155 or lorri@sptimes.com.

FAST FACTS

Largo's Nov. 6 election

WHO PLANS TO RUN:

Seat 5: Vice Mayor Harriet Crozier, John Mandujano

Seat 6: Louis "Woody" Brown, Curtis A. Holmes

Who else picked up candidate packets: Marc Faucher and Edwin Houston

Qualifying period ends at 5 p.m. Aug. 30.

Largo's Nov. 6 election

Who plans to run:

Seat 5: Vice Mayor Harriet Crozier, John Mandujano

Seat 6: Louis "Woody" Brown, Curtis A. Holmes

Who else picked up candidate packets: Marc Faucher and Edwin Houston

Qualification period ends 5 p.m. Aug. 30.

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