GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Ashley Gilhousen cruised to an election day victory in a runoff to remain on the Clay County School Board Tuesday night, securing almost two-thirds of the vote to defeat opponent Lynne Chafee.
The incumbent carried 49,505 votes, or 59.55 percent of votes to Chafee’s 33,632 votes or 40.45 percent. Gilhousen won all 47 precincts.
The District 5 school board seat race last month saw Gilhousen sue Chafee and accuse her of improperly qualifying. Gilhousen claimed Chafee did not live within the district at the time of qualifying and sought to have Chafee thrown off the ballot. District 5 encompasses Green Cove Springs and Lake Asbury, from Old Jennings Road to the Putnam County line.
Last week, however, the candidates agreed to hold off on the lawsuit until after the election, based on a recommendation from 4th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Gary Wilkinson.
Gilhousen said she looked forward to serving on the school board for another four years and thanked voters.
“I’m absolutely humbled by the incredible outpouring of support we’ve received in this election cycle,” Gilhousen said. “It was a hard-fought campaign on both sides and I think at this point everybody’s glad it’s been settled at the ballot box.”
As for the lawsuit, Gilhousen said she needed to consult her attorney before discussing details of the lawsuit, though she said the goal of getting a hearing before Nov. 20 was “still on track.”
In a prepared statement, Chafee called the campaign an “amazing experience,” and said she was grateful for her supporters, teachers and support staff.
“While I am disappointed with the outcome, I can hold my head high knowing that I ran a clean and honest campaign. I will continue to advocate for the best interests of all Clay County’s children,” she said.
The school board will meet Nov. 20, where Tina Bullock, who beat Betsy Condon in the August primary, will join Gilhousen, Carol Studdard, Mary Bolla and Janice Kerekes. At that meeting, school board members will elect a new chairman and vice chairman for the coming 12 months.