Two recently announced candidates for the Manatee County school board would not have qualified to run for election to represent their respective districts just a few months ago.
Election laws require that a candidate reside in their district. As of Dec. 31, 2013, these two candidates claimed homestead exemptions outside their districts. In one case, the homestead was not even in Manatee County.
Mary Cantrell has been a resident of Pinellas County for years even though she worked in Manatee County. Her new Lakewood Ranch "residence," a 2,000-square-foot home, pales in comparison to her 4,000-square-foot property in St. Petersburg.
She is still listed as the owner of the property in Pinellas County. The Manatee County records do not show her owning any property in this county.
Frank Brunner, running for the District 4 seat, listed an address in South Manatee County that is one unit of a triplex which was valued in total at $40,000 by the property tax assessor. Compare that to his 2013 homestead in Palmetto valued at $217,000.
His wife, a City of Palmetto commissioner, must continue residing in Palmetto. Skeptics have good reason to question his residency.
Students of Manatee County deserve leaders with integrity, not someone who attempts to beat the system in order to further their ambitions. I challenge both Ms. Cantrell and Mr. Brunner to do the honorable thing and withdraw from the election.
Mary K. Foreman