GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The race for Clay County School Board wound up, not on the campaign trail, but in a courtroom as attorneys for District 5 incumbent Ashley Gilhousen and her opponent Lynne Chafee were in court Tuesday for a hearing.
Gilhousen is suing Chafee in an attempt to force her to exit the race after Chafee admitted to the News4Jax I-TEAM that she lived in Fleming Island, but wants to represent Green Cove Springs. Gilhousen is also suing the Clay County supervisor of elections.
The big question Judge Gary Wilkinson had is whether this impacts the Nov. 6 election because, as of Tuesday afternoon, more than 31,000 Clay County voters had already voted.
So in court Tuesday, attorneys for both sides agreed to let the election play out. Then, if Chafee wins, the case will get started.
Gilhousen’s attorney requested that any hearing take place before Nov. 20, which is the date the new school board member would be sworn in. Beyond that, it’s uncertain what will happen if Chafee wins the election.
After the hearing was over, Chafee’s attorney, Ron Meyer, came out to say two things: his client was living in the proper district the date she filed to run months ago, and voters shouldn’t be deterred from voting in the school board race.
"What’s important to take away from today’s conference is the election is ongoing and people need to come out and vote," Meyer said. "They have two choices. They have Ms. Gilhousen and they have Lynne Chafee, and that’s unimpeded and notwithstanding. The election is ongoing and people should vote for the candidate of their choice."
The attorney for the supervisor of elections even brought up in court possibly withholding the results of the school board race until after the court makes a decision. But the judge said to release the results election night like normal and then the court will decide what to do if Chafee wins. If Gilhousen wins, both sides said this issue will be dropped.