Daniels wins race for sheriff, Davis defeats incumbent superintendent in Clay County

Contentious Clay County races bring out voters

Addison Davis celebrates with supporters Tuesday night at Orange Park hotel
Addison Davis celebrates with supporters Tuesday night at Orange Park hotel

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Darryl Daniels won the race for Clay County sheriff and Addison Davis defeated incumbent Superintendent of Clay Schools Charlie Van Zant.

With Sheriff Rick Beseler retiring and the challenge to the incumbent school superintendent, turnout was higher in Clay County's Republican primaries than most surrounding counties.

Clay County's supervisor of elections, Chris Chambliss, expected 30 percent of registered voters to turn out, which surpasses the 25 percent turnout from the primary in 2012.

Four Republicans -- Craig Aldrich, Darryl Daniels, James Jett, Harold Rutledge -- all sought the open position for sheriff. Because there is no challenger in November, the Republican primary was open to all voters.

Daniels received 35 percent of the votes. 

Van Zant, who is under investigation on allegations of fraud and unethical behavior by a high school principal, was challenged by Davis in the Republican primary.

"The things that have happened the past few weeks have just been gutter politics. Those are going to take care of themselves," Van Zant said before the loss. "My prayer is we'll be able to pivot and focus on the kids of Clay County."

Davis took 57 percent of the votes and will face independent candidate Rebekah Shively and a write-in qualified in the general election.

Davis, who is currently an administrator in Duval County, celebrated with supporters Tuesday night at an Orange Park hotel. He said he hopes the win will signal a shift for the Clay County School District. 

"The biggest role is focusing on the culture and building relationships with our board at the same time, building relationships with our teachers and continuing to get them actively involved in the learning process. And really figure out what's working, what's not and what we can do differently," Davis said after his victory. 

In two School Board race, Carol Studdard, who has been a vocal opponent of Van Zant, won her re-election bid, defeating Bryan Campbell in District 2.

Mary Bolla defeated Johnna McKinnon, the current chair of the school board, in District 4.

Clay County voters also chose Mike Cella for County Commissioner, District 1. He defeated Michael Kerekes. 

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