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By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2001
SOUTH PASADENA -- Fred Held was overwhelmingly re-elected this city's mayor Tuesday -- a result he says "vindicated" his and the commission's belief that challenges to his eligibility were unwarranted.
"The people of the city believed that I could be and should be mayor for another three years," said Held, who received 61 percent of the vote. Former Commissioner Lou Ippolito received 20 percent, Ray Christensen 19 percent.
Held will serve his third full term as elected mayor. He served nearly a full term when he was appointed mayor by the commission in 1994 following the resignation of Barbara Gilberg.
Because some believed Held's election would violate the city's charter restriction that limited officeholders to no more than three elected terms, Held's candidacy was challenged by several residents, including Ippolito. Last month, the commission voted unanimously that Held was a legal candidate.
Christensen, who originally entered the election because he thought Held might not run, said he was "not disappointed" by the result, adding that he "would have been a good mayor."
Ippolito said the election result demonstrated that he "didn't get his message out" that Held was "not eligible to be mayor again. The people have elected an ineligible candidate."
"I always knew I was eligible," Held insisted Tuesday. He criticized both Ippolito and Christensen for not actively campaigning. "The people deserved to have them answer questions."
Held, 74, said he would spend his final three years as mayor adding to his "legacy" of beautification and ensuring that the city's visioning plan is implemented.