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HEAD OF COUNTY NAACP RESIGNS

Curtis Stokes says he wants to spend more time with his family.

Curtis Stokes, the somewhat unorthodox president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, resigned last week, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

Stokes' ascension to the post in 2006 created a stir at the 92-year-old organization because he was seen by some as an outsider, having grown up in Belle Glade. His young age and Republican political affiliation were also new for the deeply rooted organization that has historically aligned itself with the Democratic Party.

Stokes, 40, said his wife recently began working later hours, a switch that would have left the couple's 11-year-old son alone after school without anyone to take him to football practice. His wife's work schedule as a pharmacist conflicted with the many night meetings an NAACP leader must attend, Stokes said.

Carolyn Collins, the organization's first vice president, moved up into his role after his resignation last week.

"They still call me asking to reconsider," Stokes said Friday.

A vice president atFifth Third Bank, Stokes had vowed to make the organization younger and more "user friendly."

He said he has accomplished those goals, helping fill every committee at the organization and modernizing the NAACP's Web site, which allows people to download complaint forms and pay dues.

He upset critics, inside and outside the organization, after he made public comments last month that some thought backed county Commissioner Kevin White after White lost a sexual discrimination lawsuit.

"I don't think it was in support of Kevin White," Stokes responded Friday. "I think the comments I made were right down the line. Kevin made a lot of mistakes, but it's not the role of the NAACP to trash elected officials."

Stokes, who remains a member of the NAACP's executive committee, said he does not have immediate political aspirations, though this summer he told the Times he wanted to run for the citywide District 1 City Council seat held by term-limited Gwen Miller. Stokes said he will continue to serve as area chairman for the United Negro College Fund and work with other groups he represents.

Last month, Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Stokes to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority.

Collins, a clinical nutritionist specialist at Tampa General Hospital, is a former president of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association, said Sam Wright, NAACP vice president. She did not return phone messages or pages.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

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