PORT RICHEY — The Port Richey City Council finally can take a breath. It shook off the last of its most recent political woes on Friday. Four months after his arrest, former Vice Mayor Terry Rowe resigned.
Rowe's resignation came three days after a jury found former Mayor Dale Massad guilty of obstruction of justice. Rowe is facing the same obstruction charge after he was on the receiving end of a March jailhouse phone call with Massad. Rowe's pretrial conference is scheduled for July 18. While the two former mayors go through the justice system, the city's new mayor said he is ready to see the city get back to business.
Scott Tremblay won a special mayoral election on June 18. His first city meeting was Tuesday, the same day as Massad's conviction. Tremblay and the council voted then to begin the process of ousting Rowe, who was accused of conspiring with Massad during the phone call against a Port Richey police officer who had investigated Massad.
The new mayor said that City Manager Vincent Lupo reached out to Rowe's attorney on Wednesday, asking Rowe to resign upon the request of the council. The attorney said he would speak to Rowe. On Thursday, the city received Rowe's resignation papers.
"Everyone's going to be happy that we can get that position filled and move on with our government," Tremblay said.
Neither Rowe, nor his attorney, could be reached Friday for comment.
Port Richey citizens will be able to vote to fill Rowe's seat during an already-planned special election for another open council seat on Sept. 10, according to the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections.
Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Massad after he was arrested on charges of practicing medicine without a license and attempted homicide after authorities said he fired two rounds at law enforcement officers who were serving him a warrant. The governor also suspended Rowe, who was acting mayor when he was arrested.
Massad had resigned from his mayoral position, but Rowe held out. That left the City Council in limbo prior to Tremblay's election. Earlier, council members couldn't agree whether to forfeit Rowe's seat or await the outcome of his court case.
Port Richey resident Lisa Burke said a City Council representative called her Friday morning to tell her about Rowe's resignation, and she had been fielding phone calls all day.
The 57-year-old had started a movement to recall Rowe. She and a handful of others submitted 208 signatures on a recall petition on April 30. They were going through the second round of signature collecting when she got the call.
She knew this day would come, she said, adding that now the city government "is back up and working."
Contact Paige Fry at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @paigexfry.