PORT RICHEY, Fla. (FOX 13) - The mayoral mess in Port Richey continued Thursday as the city tried to move forward with filling an empty council set following the arrests of the mayor and vice mayor, but there was yet another setback.
During a special meeting, council members could not agree on one person to nominate for the temporary seat, reaching a stalemate about an hour and 15 minutes into the meeting, when they quickly adjourned.
For a second time, Port Richey residents came out to share their thoughts and nominate themselves, hoping for a decision on who will sit in the empty council seat.
“If you’re going to do your job, do it right. What’s so difficult about filling this chair?” said a woman who attended the meeting.
Two council members liked different people, and the third council member, Richard Bloom, reluctantly nominated someone who didn’t speak and was not present at the meeting. Several residents accused Bloom of trying to hold up the meeting’s proceedings.
Bloom is the same city leader who called out sick from the last meeting, saying he had food poisoning.
Rowe was arrested in March for allegedly conspiring against an officer tied to an investigation into the former mayor, Dale Massad.
In February, Massad was arrested for practicing medicine without a license and shooting at deputies. He later resigned from office.
Bloom said appointing someone to the seat could open the city up to a lawsuit, but the city attorney countered, saying it was legal.
“The research I did was [the] Florida statute that I cited, you all saw it. And that statue is very, very clear,” said Bloom.
By the end of all the back-and-forth between the council and the public, residents left frustrated.
“It’s kind of sad that the council can't come together, even if it's for just for such a short time, to just move forward and get past business,” said resident Todd Maklary, who nominated himself for the empty seat.
City Council and residents will go through the process again during the next meeting on April 10, and residents hope the council will be able to agree on a temporary member. That temporary council member would hold the position until the special election on June 18 when citizens will vote for the new mayor.