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Stanton stays in spotlight

The fired city manager becomes a presidential campaign issue, then appears on Larry King Live.

By LORRI HELFAND, Times Correspondent
Published August 14, 2007


However briefly, the firing of Susan Stanton as Largo's city manager has become a campaign issue.

A presidential campaign issue.

Last week, Sen. John Edwards was asked about Susan Stanton at a Democratic presidential candidate's forum on gay and transgender issues Thursday.

With Stanton, 48, sitting in the audience in Los Angeles, a questioner told Edwards that Stanton was fired as Largo's city manager after news of her transition was made public.

Edwards was then asked how he would react if a member of his staff told him he or she was transgendered.

"I would support them in every possible way including on a personal and emotional level, provide every bit of help and support that I possibly could in going through what they were going through," he said.

Edwards also said Stanton's situation shows "we need powerful nondiscrimination laws in the United States of America so that people cannot be fired."

Stanton said other major presidential candidates also remarked that workers should not be fired because they're gay or transgendered.

"It seemed like a no-brainer to people who were answering that question," Stanton said.

Steve Stanton, Largo's city manager for 14 years, was fired in March, about a month after disclosing his plans to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

City commissioners who voted to fire Stanton said gender had nothing to do with their decision. Rather, they said that as city manager Stanton had been a demanding and sometimes intolerant boss who was asking for more leniency than he gave to subordinates.

After his termination, Stanton had his name legally changed to Susan Ashley Stanton.

Edwards' remarks about Stanton were highlighted during a Friday night segment of Larry King Live featuring Stanton and three other transgender people.

During the show, Stanton told King she has scheduled sexual reassignment surgery. Stanton, who started living as a woman three months ago, plans to have surgery next May, Stanton said Monday.

She moved to Sarasota in July and has applied for several jobs in recent weeks, including administrative positions at the University of South Florida and a deputy city manager job in Berkeley, Calif.

Despite Edwards' support, Stanton said she favors one of his rivals in the race for president.

Hillary Clinton, she said, "has such an assertive style, and I like her positions on many things."

A registered Republican, Stanton said she hasn't voted with the GOP for 15 years.

Asked about her party affiliation, Stanton said, "I probably ought to at some point change that."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at or 445-4155.

Fast Facts:

On the Web

To see John Edwards' reply about Susan Stanton, visit visiblevote08.logoonline. com/2007/08/09/video-john-edwards-rewind.

[Last modified August 13, 2007, 21:32:01]

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