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Why I just donated $500 to City Council candidate Lisa Wheeler-Brown

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

I don’t know City Council candidate Lisa Wheeler-Brown very well, just an occasional handshake or a passing nod at various city events.

That said, Wheeler-Brown’s reputation speaks for itself. She’s a dedicated community activist and neighborhood leader. At this point, she is the only candidate running for the District 7 seat currently held by the term-limited Wengay Newton.

This evening, the Tampa Bay Times plucked from a controversial message board the rumor mongering of those who would like to keep her off of Council.

City Hall reporter Charlie Frago reports that Wheeler-Brown is speaking out about “whispers” about her criminal record.

In 1990, Wheeler-Brown, listed in court records as Telisha Tanniele Wheeler, pleaded guilty to retail theft. In 1997, she pleaded guilty to writing a worthless check. Both crimes were misdemeanors.

At 22, Wheeler-Brown stole a pair of shoes for her 3-year-old son. At 29, she wrote a bad check to cover a car payment on a vehicle that was about to be repossessed, she said.

Those were missteps, she said, but she owned up to it and paid the fines and court costs. Since then, she has worked in jobs that require background checks.

“I don’t have anything to hide. I’m ashamed of what I did back then, but I learned from my mistakes,” she said Tuesday.

After reading Frago’s report, I donated $500 online to Wheeler-Brown’s campaign. It was the least I could do.

See, I know a little something about making mistakes (including the writing of bad checks) and trying to climb out of that kind of abyss. As Darden Rice, a member of the City Council Wheeler-Brown hopes to serve on, like to say you surrender your reputation by the shovel-full, but gain it back with a spoon.

The key is to be open and transparent about one’s past and forthright about what you’ve learned from your mistakes. That’s what Wheeler-Brown did today, reaching out to the Times to clear up any questions.

It’s obvious from her service in the community that Wheeler-Brown has been hard at work with her own spoon of redemption. Again, I know a little something about that.

Wheeler-Brown should be commended for making the most of her second chance. To help make sure she has the best opportunity to share her powerful message, I’ve contributed $500 to her campaign. I hope you will consider joining me in supporting Wheeler-Brown’s campaign.

Because F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong, there are second acts in American politics.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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