PORT RICHEY — City Council will get back to full-strength once again.
Residents go to the polls on Sept. 10 to elect two candidates to the five-member council. Council has had a full contingent for the past two meetings but with two seats filled temporarily. City residents Todd Maklary and Angel Nally were recently selected by council to be temporary members, pending the outcome of the Sept. 11 balloting.
The special election ballot featured three candidates, Maklary, Tom Kinsella and Joseph Parisi. Nally opted to not run.
Maklary was a candidate in the city’s mayoral election June 18 and finished third behind the winner, Scott Trembley, and former Councilman Bill Colombo.
Tuesday will mark the third time this year residents go to the polls to elect council members. Current council members William Dittmer and Jennie Sorrell won re-election unopposed on April 9 after their lone competitor, Parisi, was removed from the ballot. Parisi’s candidacy was disqualified.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: It was originally reported that Parisi's candidacy was disqualified by the the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Office because his qualifying fee was paid for with funds from a source other than his campaign account. Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley emailed The Suncoast News to clarify.
"My office is not the filing officer for municipalities and only the filing officer can disqualify a candidate. As such, it would be ultimately up to the city manager and or city clerk to disqualify a candidate.")
Parisi had also been nominated multiple times as a temporary council member by former Councilman Richard Bloom. Those attempts failed when Bloom’s motions were never seconded by another council member. Bloom gave up his council seat to run in the June 18 mayoral election, but his fourth-place finish removed him from council.
Both Maklary and Kinsella created Facebook pages supporting their candidacies.
Winners of the seats will be decided by a simple majority, meaning the top two vote-getters will be Port Richey’s newest council members.
City Council hasn’t had five elected board members seated since February. Turmoil began with former Mayor Dale Massad’s arrest at his home Feb. 21. Massad’s home was being raided because he was suspected of practicing medicine without a license. The incident escalated when Massad fired shots with a handgun at Pasco SWAT team members entering his home, though he did not hit anyone.
After being arrested, Massad told detectives he thought he was firing at Port Richey police officers trying to enter his house, according to an arrest affidavit.
Council went down to only three members soon after when former Councilman Terrence Rowe, who was acting mayor after Massad’s arrest and suspension from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was also arrested March 13. Rowe’s troubles stemmed from discussions he had with Massad at the Pasco County Jail while the former mayor was behind bars. Massad and Rowe had their duties as councilmen suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis and both eventually resigned their posts.
According to arrest records, Massad suspected a Port Richey police officer was cooperating with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation of Massad for practicing medicine without a license. Massad is a former physician but no longer held a license.