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Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes' resignation letter raises objections

Susan Valdes has served on the Hillsborough County School Board since 2004. [HCPS]
Susan Valdes has served on the Hillsborough County School Board since 2004. [HCPS]
Published Jun. 13, 2018

Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes, who is running for the Florida House District 62 seat, sent in her legally required resignation letter hours before last Friday's deadline.

On Monday, Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer announced that he had received her resignation by email at 7:30 p.m., which is after regular office hours. He accepted it.

Tom Alte, a consultant working with the Michael Alvarez campaign, said Valdes is getting special treatment.

"It's extremely clear that every other candidate had to file their paperwork before the Supervisor of Elections office closed," Alte said. "But something happened over the weekend that made them decide they would review their policy. No other candidate would ever get that treatment."

Not so, says Gerri Kramer, director of communications for the Supervisor's office.

"There's no strings being pulled here," said Kramer, who said she reviewed the issue with the Florida Division of Elections. "If I had received five different resignation letters from five different people before midnight, I would have accepted them all."

The issue at hand is the resign-to-run law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott this year. The law requires state and local elected officials to submit resignations 10 days before qualifying to run for another office.

"The law doesn't say it has to be submitted by close of business, or by a specific time," Kramer said. "The Division of Elections told us the letter was valid, so we accepted."

Since the decision Monday, Alte said he has tried to figure out what led to the supervisor's office accepting the resignation letter.

Alte said his public records request for emails to and from Valdes' official email account was denied for being "too broad." He also said he had not gotten a response when he asked for emails relating to her resignation letter.

However, the Hillsborough County School District said it never denied his request. Spokesman Grayson Kamm said the district spoke to Alte about refining his request to fulfill it more quickly, and did so Wednesday.

"We processed that request and it has already been delivered to him," Kamm said.

Valdes is taking on marijuana rights and political activist Chris Cano and party activist and construction company executive Alvarez in the Aug. 28 primary election for House District 62.

No Party candidate Jason Alan Stuber filed April 25, but has reported no fundraising. No Republican has filed in the heavily Democratic and Hispanic district.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from the Hillsborough County School District stating that it fulfilled Tom Alte's public records request.

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