OLDSMAR, Fla. (WFLA) – The vice mayor of Oldsmar, Linda Norris, is out of jail after a drunk driving arrest. But, what does that mean for her future as an elected official?
8 On Your Side’s Christine McLarty went to speak with Norris at Oldsmar’s city hall Thursday but she wasn’t there. McLarty also tried reaching Norris on the phone and showed up at her house on behalf of many disappointed residents in Oldsmar, but Norris didn’t answer.
“I just think a DUI at this point for anyone is inexcusable,” said Tonya Woodward, who lives in Oldsmar with her husband, Allen.
The couple said they’re disappointed in Norris.
“Not only can you harm yourself or take your own life but you put the lives of other people in danger,” Woodward said.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested 59-year-old Norris at 10:30 Wednesday morning for driving under the influence in her red Tesla.
Deputies said Norris caused a three-car pileup at Hillsborough Avenue and Race Track Road. No one was injured.
They said she wouldn’t take a breathalyzer and did not pass the sobriety field test.
Deputies said they found three bottles of alcohol in her car, including an opened bottle of Fireball in the center console.
News Channel 8 went to Oldsmar’s city hall to get answers.
“I attempted to reach the vice mayor in a couple of ways and I haven’t been able to connect with her as of yet,” said Mayor Eric Seidel.
News Channel 8 asked him what he had to say to the people of Oldsmar who are disappointed.
“Well, I think if what has been reported is accurate then, of course, they should be disappointed and should expect more from their leaders,” Seidel said.
This isn’t Norris’s first run-in with the law. Deputies say it’s her third DUI arrest.
“Obviously there’s a problem. I hope we can as a country rise to hold our officials accountable for their behavior,” Woodward said.
The mayor said he hopes she resigns.
“If this turns out to be accurate I’m concerned for her wellbeing and I would rather her focus on getting well,” Seidel said.
McLarty asked him if her previous DUI’s were taken into consideration before she became vice mayor.
“Well, that was something that wasn’t known,” Seidel said.
He said they don’t do background checks but will look to see if they have the ability to start doing them.
News Channel 8 asked the mayor what happens if Norris doesn’t resign and he said the city council could vote to remove her.
“The city council does have the ability to remove someone from office, it’s a process. It’s under certain conditions, in reviewing the charter, I believe these conditions would qualify,” Seidel said.
“It’s a position that is supposed to be held with accountability. Hopefully, she’ll be accountable for her actions and follow through and do the right thing,” Allen Woodward said. “If she could be responsible enough to take accountability and advocate for the cause to make other people aware, I think that would be a step in the right direction.”
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