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Candidate, mayor's wife clash at forum

By AMY WIMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001


SOUTH PASADENA -- It's not just the mayoral candidates who are getting hot under the collar.

Candidate Lou Ippolito and the current mayor's wife, Alma Held, exchanged words in the parking lot of the Bay Islands condominiums after a candidates forum. Precisely what those words were is in dispute.

"She was in the middle of the street cursing like a banshee," Ippolito said of Mrs. Held, specifically recalling that she told Ippolito he was "full of s--."

Mrs. Held does not remember using such language. "That's not my kind of talk," she said. "But now that you said it, I think he is."

Ippolito, who thinks Mayor Fred Held should be disqualified from this year's election because he has exceeded the number of terms permitted in the city charter, refused to attend the forums at Bay Islands and at seven other locations. Ippolito stood outside at Bay Islands and distributed information about why Held should not be allowed to run.

Participating in the forum, Ippolito says, would legitimize Held's candidacy.

Mrs. Held said other people were upset that Ippolito passed out information outside the forum instead of participating in it. Fred Held said people at the forum were "very distraught to see a candidate standing outside and he won't come inside."

Ippolito and Held have been at odds for years, though this is the first time they have faced each other in an election. Though he held two terms as commissioner in the 1990s, Ippolito lost three bids for a commission seat last year.

First, the commission declined to temporarily appoint him to fill a seat vacated by Commissioner Al Edmiston, who had died; then Ippolito lost in the city's regular election; and then he lost in the special election to replace Edmiston.

Fred and Alma Held said they complained to their condominium association about Ippolito after the candidates forum at Bay Islands because he was passing out campaign fliers within their complex, which is against condo rules.

"He just doesn't abide by those rules or regulations," Fred Held said. "He thinks he's something special."

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