St. Petersburg City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman resigned her position Thursday following accusations that she no longer lived in the district she represents.
It is a violation of City Charter to no live within an official’s elected district.
The accusation came from former mayoral candidate Vincent Nowicki, who has also filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Ken Welch over his appointment of James Corbett to City Development Administrator. Council Chair Gina Driscoll announced the resignation Thursday shortly after Nowicki’s claim.
Nowicki spoke at Thursday’s City Council meeting, noting Wheeler-Bowman recently purchased a home outside her district using a Veterans Affairs loan, which requires the purchaser to utilize the home as their primary residence.
Wheeler-Bowman has represented District 7 since 2015. It includes portions of South St. Petersburg including Childs Park, the area known as Midtown and Bear Creek. The home she allegedly purchased is in nearby District 6, which includes Southeast St. Pete.
Wheeler-Bowman’s term was not set to expire until 2024.
A text to Wheeler-Bowman went unanswered and her cell phone number appeared to be disconnected as of at least Saturday.
In her resignation letter, Wheeler-Bowman said she was unaware of the residency requirement within her mortgage agreement, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“You are aware I recently purchased a home outside of my district. I was not aware of the residence requirement that was in the huge stack of mortgage documents that were given to me at closing,” she wrote.
She went on to explain that because of the requirement, she would be moving to the new home, despite her original intent to live within her district for the duration of her term.
Because Wheeler-Bowman was serving her second term, she is not eligible to run for reelection.
Her resignation was effective immediately.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Colleen Wright investigated the residency claims, noting that a TikTok video on August 19 showed Wheeler-Bowman dancing in a kitchen that matches photos of the kitchen in the newly-purchased home shown on its listing.
City Council will meet this week to begin the process to replace Wheeler-Bowman through an appointment, according to the Times.