ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg Councilwoman Lisa Wheeler-Bowman resigned during Thursday night’s council meeting.
It came not long after it was discovered that she wasn’t living in her district.
During public comment, Vince Nowicki brought up the councilwoman’s residency. He called on city council and the city attorney to remove her from office because she violated the city charter.
Hours later, Wheeler-Bowman resigned.
You are aware I recently purchased a home outside of my district. I was not aware of the residence requirement that was in the huge stack of mortgage documents that were given to me at closing. Because of this requirement I will be moving my residence to that location. Even though I purchased the house in July it was always my intent to live in my district until the end of my term. I am submitting my resignation as Council Member effective immediately. It has been an honor to serve my community.Wheeler-Bowman’s resignation letter
Wheeler-Bowman told WFLA on Friday it was the right thing to do.
“I had an opportunity to take care of my family,” Wheeler-Bowman said. “Am I sorry for what I did? No. Family first.”
Wheeler-Bowman says because of the housing crisis, she could not find a house in her district. When she bought the home, she didn’t realize she had 60 days to make it her permanent residence.
“Once I find out I had 60 days, I was like, ‘OK, I got to go,’ and it’s OK because I’m all right. I’m at peace in my heart with it,” Wheeler-Bowman said. “I know what I did for my community. My community knows what I did for my community and I’m happy about that.”
Nowicki withdrew from the mayor race in St. Petersburg last year. But he says he shared this information with council not out of malice, but because there’s no accountability.
“Rules for thee, but not for me and so, Council Member Bowman, you know, I’m sad for her but I’m happy for democracy,” Nowici said. “I feel a lot of the citizens don’t have a voice that’s going on.”
Wheeler-Bowman’s resignation comes weeks after St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens resigned. Communications Director Janelle Taylor, who made allegations against the deputy mayor, also resigned.
The now-former councilwoman says although she’s no longer in office, she still plans to serve her community.
“I served my city before I was on council, I served my city while I was on council and I’m going to serve my city while I’m not on council,” Wheeler-Bowman said.
St. Petersburg City Council Chair Gina Driscoll sent WFLA a statement Friday afternoon responding to the resignation.
This was a surprising and disappointing turn of events. My focus now is on the process of appointing a new City Council Member so that our city can move forward with full representation.City Council Chair Gina Driscoll
Council will meet next Thursday, Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m. for a committee of the whole meeting.