No clear evidence of residency violation in city council race

A hearing officer hired by the City of Fort Myers recommended to Fort Myers Council to find Anthony Thomas has met residency requirements to run for council.

Thomas is a a candidate for Ward 2 against incumbent Councilman Johnny Streets.

Thomas’ cousin filed an affidavit with the city clerk that called his residency into question.

The City Charter requires a candidate to reside within the city ward they intend to represent for at least six months prior to running for office.

Melissa Blue claimed that Thomas never lived in a house on Lemon Street where she resides with her parents and children.

Council voted in October to have the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigate. The city attorney, however, recommended that a hearing officer be hired to determine whether or not Thomas violated the residency requirements in the City Charter to run for office.

The sheriff’s office never confirmed to WINK News whether or not it would investigate.

A special hearing was then set with Robert Shearman, an attorney hired to act as a hearing officer, in late October.

At that hearing, Blue and her attorney, Sawyer Smith, presented evidence that called into question whether or not Thomas resided within the ward during the six month qualifying period.

Thomas did not present any evidence other than to stand by what he provided the city clerk — a driver’s license with an address within the ward.

City Clerk Gwen Carlise also testified that she certified his address with the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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