Election officials are satisfied with Will Jacoby's residency, but his opponent still has some questions.
By MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN
Published February 22, 2004
ST. PETE BEACH - After receiving a letter from Will Jacoby reaffirming that he met the residency requirement to qualify as a candidate, city officials are satisfied with his response.
Jacoby, who is running for District 1 seat in the March 9 election, dropped off the letter at City Hall Friday and took an oath pledging that the statements were true.
"We looked at the letter and we decided that no further action was going to be taken," said City Clerk Theresa McMaster.
Jacoby, 53, could not be reached for comment Friday. In the letter, he wrote that "without a question" he began his residency in St. Pete Beach on Oct. 31, 2002.
"It was during this week that I had visits with my uncle to his doctors and discussions with my uncle that made it clear that I needed to make a decision to live with him here on the beach to assist him," Jacoby wrote.
Deborah Martohue, who also is running for District 1, asked city officials Wednesday to investigate Jacoby's residency claim. The St. Petersburg Times first reported on the controversy on Thursday.
Martohue said one of her concerns was a listing of political races in Jefferson County in Kentucky that ran in The Courier-Journal newspaper on Oct. 31, 2002, the same day Jacoby said he began living full time in St. Pete Beach. The list included Jacoby as a candidate for the November 2002 City Council election in St. Regis Park, a suburb of Louisville, Ky., where Jacoby has lived since 1974.
In his letter, Jacoby said that in July 2002 he decided to run for office in St. Regis Park. "On October 31, when I made the decision to start my residency here it was too late for my name to be stricken from the ballot," he wrote.
Jacoby said the elections office in Jefferson County told him his only option was to resign if he was elected. He lost the election.
In July, nine months after Jacoby said his residency started in St. Pete Beach, he registered to vote and to drive in Florida. Last month, he turned in his Kentucky plates for a Florida license tag for his 1999 Chevrolet Suburban.
Jacoby said there have been no elections since he moved here so he didn't register to vote when he first arrived. He said he realizes he should have gotten a driver's license sooner, but was too busy taking care of his frail uncle who lives with him. He said he kept his vehicle registered in Kentucky for insurance reasons.
Martohue recently left two messages on Jacoby's home phone, asking to speak with him about his residency. One was recorded Feb. 13 and the other last Monday.
Jacoby filed a complaint with the Police Department, saying he was getting "harassing" phone calls from Martohue. Sgt. Alan Ostoits wrote in his report that "in listening to the messages I could not see where a threat was made."
Ostoits told Jacoby he would ask Martohue not to call him again. Martohue, 38, agreed to Ostoits' request.
But she still has questions to ask Jacoby.
"I think the voters of St. Pete Beach are smart, common-sense people," Martohue said Friday. "They can review the facts themselves and reach their own conclusions about Mr. Jacoby's residency and veracity. Voters deserve to make informed decisions about candidates running for elected office and I invite Mr. Jacoby to participate in a candidate forum with me to give District 1 residents an opportunity to get to know us and the issues we stand for."