Temple Terrace mayor questioned about validity of Ph.D.

- The mayor of Temple Terrace got a little help from her friends Tuesday amid reports she embellished her academic credentials. Several citizens showed up at the city council meeting Tuesday night to ask Mayor Mel Jurado to resign, but they appeared outnumbered by her supporters.

Some called her by her nickname: "I have known 'Doctor Mel' for over 20 years," one person said.

Reporting by local media showed she got a psychology doctorate degree from a school called LaSalle University -- not the one in Philly, but a correspondence school in Louisiana that did not have widely recognized academic credentials and shut down about 20 years ago.

Members of a group called Reimagine Temple Terrace called for her resignation. 

"I don't think you should be the face of this city," one speaker said.

Another said: "I do not think she represents the core values of Temple Terrace or holds the integrity I would like to see in a mayor."

Mayor Jurado listened as both sides made their case.

Her supporters, who doubled those who put her record in question, said the outrage was caused by political opponents and media striving for character assassination. And for them, the validity of her diploma is irrelevant when they consider her decades of work within the community.

"I think she is a great mayor. She's effective, she's a sincere person. As far as this issue concerns me, I don't give a damn," said one supporter.

Another said: "She is concerned about generations to come. She is a champion for our kids."

Mayor Jurado got the backing of the city manager, who released a statement saying, "The allegations have no bearing on the fitness or qualifications of her to serve as mayor."

FOX 13 tried to ask Jurado about the allegations before Tuesday's meeting began, but got no response.

At some point on Tuesday, her biography on the city website was changed to remove any references to the title "doctor" and her degree from LaSalle University.

"She is always dependable," insisted one speaker. "She tells you she is going to do a job, the job gets done."

Mayor Jurado has lived in Temple Terrace for 25 years and runs a consulting company.

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