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Council critic misses chance to run for seat in Zephyrhills

On election day April 10, Dale Barnett would have lived in the city limits a few weeks shy of the required six months to be eligible for candidacy.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Dale Barnett will have to keep his regular chair in the audience at City Council meetings, instead of the council seat he had planned on gunning for.

Barnett, who hasn't missed a meeting in years, would not have lived in the city limits for the required six months when city elections roll around April 10. He said he moved into the city Nov. 1 and didn't quite do the math correctly.

"I counted on my fingers from November to April and came up with six," said Barnett, 63. "I forgot you have to have six whole months. If elections were the 30th of April, I could have made it."

Barnett, who owns the Telephone Man on Seventh Avenue and is known as a vocal critic of City Manager Steve Spina, had planned on running against council president Clyde Bracknell. But he said he feels he made a difference in the race, even if he isn't running.

"I think I made Clyde take a real hard look. He's going to have to make a stand now instead of sitting on the fence," Barnett said. "Clyde has never been accountable. He looks both ways before his hand goes up (to vote)."

Barnett said he thinks another candidate will step in to challenge Bracknell, though he didn't know who. Bracknell could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Zephyrhills News employee Mike Bussell already has announced that he will challenge incumbent Tim Ippolito.

Barnett said he is tired of the status quo. Although he is not in the race, he said he'll support any viable challengers.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'll support pretty much whoever is running against the incumbents," he said. "The people running now are more or less "yes' people for the city manager."

And the city manager needs a serious review, Barnett said, not a passive council.

"The City Council is elected to do the citizens' bidding," he said. "That isn't what they are doing. Our city manager is telling us how he's going to run the city. I think we need to get back to where the City Council runs the city, not the city manager."

Just because he won't be holding office, don't expect Barnett to quit paying attention to city business.

"I'm not going to miss council meetings," he said. "I haven't missed them for years."

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