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Mayor makes choice on resignation date

Port Richey's elected leader will step down Sept. 5 so she can run for County Commission.

By ALISA ULFERTS and MATT WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2000


Port Richey Mayor Eileen Ferdinand knows when she'll call it quits: Sept. 5.

Ferdinand is running for County Commission. But state law requires candidates who already hold elected office to resign if they want to run for another post. Although she must submit her resignation letter no later than July 7, the law leaves some wiggle room on when the resignation must take effect.

Following Supervisor of Elections Kurt Browning's advice, Ferdinand asked for an opinion from the state elections office. Earlier this week she got her answer: Sept. 5 will be just fine.

Ferdinand said she plans to run her letter from the state past City Attorney Paul Marino, but she is pretty sure she'll plan on Sept. 5 because that's the date of the first primary and the city won't have to hold a special election to replace her. It can put those candidates on the primary ballot, Ferdinand said.

The mayor said she had considered two dates, the first primary and the general election. But because the general election falls within 180 days of the city's April elections, her replacement would have to be appointed, not elected, according to the city charter, Ferdinand said.

She wants voters to be able to elect their representative.

"The people have the democratic process," Ferdinand said.

New Port Richey council member Tom Finn, who also has filed to run for County Commission, said his plans for resignation are just ideas at this point because he's not even sure he'll be in the race very long.

"In my campaign, I'm not really planning on going past July 6," Finn said. "The important thing is to get the issues out there."

Finn said he's trying to be the pacesetter for the campaign, using debates and the media to bring out what he sees as the important issues: water, roads and future development.

If he is in the campaign after the filing deadline, he said, he would want to hold on to his seat as long as possible.

"If the decision was made today, I wouldn't be (continuing the race)," Finn said. "If the tide came rushing in and picked me up, I would do it."

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