Trial on Clerk of Court's eligibility set for next week

Jim Fuller seeking re-election amid recent term limits ruling

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A pretrial hearing was held Monday in the case of Duval County Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller, whose eligibility to run for office again is in question.

A recent Florida Supreme Court ruling regarding term limits may take Fuller out of the race. However, he is currently still on the primary ballot against his opponent, Ronnie Fussell, and absentee ballots are being cast in the Republican's favor.

A judge will hear the case next week. The City Council wants Fuller to be taken off the ballot, saying that he has served his time and that term limits apply.

Fuller says his is a special case and he should be allowed to continue to run for office.

"They wait until the last minute, then claim they want to save $1.8 million," Fuller said of the city. "They already disenfranchised voters and already disenfranchised people who wanted to run for clerk and didn't run because I was on the ballot. There is a lot of things the city did wrong, and they may have to have another special election anyway."

The city's attorney did not want to talk about the case before it goes to trial next week, but she plans to present written briefs later this week.

Fuller had tried to let next week's hearing decide the matter once and for all. He agreed he would not appeal the case if the city agreed to the same thing. City lawyers said no, so now it appears no matter what happens there will be an appeal and likely a special election.

Preparations are already underway for the primary, and Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said no matter what happens, the questions around Fuller's eligibility won't change the primary ballot.

"This is not unusual," Holland said. "We have seen this happen throughout the state where sometimes a candidate will be in question. From an election perspective, we move on until a court says otherwise. We tabulate until a court says otherwise."

Bill Hodges, Democratic candidate for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, released the following statement:

"In 1992, the voters of Duval decided that two terms was enough. If elected to serve as their next Clerk of the Circuit Court, I pledge to abide by their wishes, a measure that I also voted for. I will keep this pledge no matter the outcome of the court case brought by the city to determine the eligibility of incumbent Jim Fuller."

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