City to Hold Elections in April
Four people filed to run for city council, but one hopeful's run is in question.
With municipal elections looming in April, one city council hopeful's candidate application is in question.
Four people filed to run for the two New Port Richey city council seats that are up for grabs this election season.
However, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said the paperwork filed for Denise Houston, who turned in her paperwork Tuesday morning, was missing notarization of her candidate oath.
State law requires that candidate oaths be notarized, Corley said.
The other three candidates' paperwork is fine, Corley said.
City Manager John Schneiger said that staff will discuss Houston’s candidacy with the county elections authorities Wednesday and seek a resolution.
“I don’t know how it’s going to work out, unfortunately” Schneiger said.
The deadline for candidates to turn in qualifying paperwork was noon on Tuesday.
The New Port Richey city clerk is the qualifying officer for municipal elections. Doreen Summers has held the position since late last year, but she was in training when Houston submitted her application.
Another member of city staff accepted Houston’s application, but she is not a notary. Schneiger said he does not believe that the city is required to be the one to notarize paperwork. That's a service, and it can be obtained elsewhere, like at a bank.
“I’m kind of disappointed, and it’s a technicality” Houston said, but maybe she won’t be when the issue is resolved.
Incumbent Councilwoman Judy DeBella Thomas filed for re-election to her seat. Councilwoman Ginny Miller, the other incumbent, did not.
Elections are slated to be held April 10. City council members are elected to three-year terms. Here are the people who filed to run:
Judy DeBella Thomas
- DeBella Thomas started her time on the council in 2008 and was elected in 2009 to serve a three-year term. She is former executive director of Greater New Port Richey Main Street.
“Folks have complimented me on the job I’ve been doing,” she said.
She said these include the the development of Main Street Landing, ideas on how to generate revenue for the city recreation and aquatic center and the city's proposal to take over animal control services.
“It’s been a very busy last couple years,” she said. ”We’ve got lots of opportunities to see the city continue moving in the right direction.”
- Rhodes, 85, is a retired professional consultant who has served on the city’s Land Development Review Board for the past six years. He crafted the master plan for development of the Virginia Community College System and spent decades in the consulting business. He writes fiction in his retirement.
- Bill Phillips, 55, is a former New Port Richey city council member. He held a seat on the council from 1992-1994. He currently handles sales in Florida for Centimark Corp., a national commercial roofing company. He lives in the city, having moved back into the footprint of the home he was raised in.
Phillips said he has stayed involved in local and county issues and has the background to help address some of the challenges before the city. These include concerns about the city budget, perceptions of the city and the city’s redevelopment and economic enhancement efforts.
“I think I bring a really targeted approach to some of the issues they face,” Philips said.
Denise Houston (candidacy pending review)
- Houston, 55, is a 20-year resident of the city. She describes herself as an activist. She has volunteered her involvement in city issues. She volunteered with Greater New Port Richey Main Street and sits on the city Environmental Advisory Committee.
"Our environment is very important to me," she said.
Houston is an advocate for legalizing medical cannabis, but she said that would not fit into her role as a city council member, it being a state legislative issue.
The New Port Richey economy is hard hit right now. She said she feels an "obligation" to run for council and can bring her views as a resident to board of elected officials.
"I think I can do more for our city," she said.