Skipper, Hanson unseat school board incumbents in Primary

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 8/24/22

CLAY COUNTY – The 2022 primary election saw two Clay County School District board members dethroned, a new judge and two Republican primaries for county commissioner races.

Of a possible 161,385 …

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Skipper, Hanson unseat school board incumbents in Primary

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – The 2022 primary election saw two Clay County School District board members dethroned, a new judge and two Republican primaries for county commissioner races.

Of a possible 161,385 voters, approximately 40,835 ballots were counted, meaning turnout was 25.3%. As for voting patterns, 17,837 ballots were cast on Election Day, 12,989 mail-in ballots were cast and 10,001 ballots were cast during early voting.

Incumbents Janice Kerekes and Tina Bullock were defeated by Erin Skipper and Michele Hanson, respectively. To win District 1’s seat, Skipper captured 54.6% of the vote to Kerekes’ 33.19%, with Charles Kirk securing 12.2% of more than 39,000 votes cast.

Skipper, who was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, said she wasn’t expecting the win. Describing the feeling as overwhelming, Skipper estimated she knocked on at least 1,000 doors.

“I will say our governor's endorsement definitely helped,” she said. “But I never stopped when I started this campaign trail, if you will. A lot of sweat, blood and tears went into this. It was definitely challenging.”

In District 4, Hanson’s 54.93% bested Bullock’s 45.07%. Bullock, a long-time district administrator who has served on the school board before, was seeking a second term against Hanson, a former teacher.

Hanson said she wanted to give people a voice and she felt a change was going to happen based on the people she talked with.

“I’m very humbled by the community support I received,” Hanson said Wednesday morning. “I know I will still do the best for this county like I always did.”

Bullock said she loved the district and wished the organization, and Hanson, success.

“I am disappointed, but I am proud that I supported all schools and was a strong advocate for the south end of Clay County, District 4,” Bullock said.

The third school board race had Ashley Gilhousen’s 69.39% of the vote to defeat Gerald Beasley’s 30.61% in District 5. In a campaign statement, Gilhousen thanked family, her supporters and God for securing a third four-year term.

“I am incredibly humbled by all of the support and encouragement I’ve received during this election cycle and am honored that the voters of Clay County have trusted me with their District 5 School Board seat for another four years,” she said.

In the county’s District 4, Commissioner Betsy Condon secured a second four-year term with 64.62% of the vote, as she defeated Dale Carter, 35.38%, in a Republican primary. A Democrat candidate has not filed for the district.

Condon said she worked during the election but now has a chance to focus all her effort and attention on the work.

“I’m grateful that the citizens of District 4 have re-elected me. We have good momentum going and we’re excited to continue that,” Condon said. "I’ll keep working for better internet, better roads and smart growth.”

Alexandra Compere won the Republican primary in Oakleaf’s District 2, where incumbent Wayne Bolla is termed out. She earned 70.39% of the vote to candidate Rodney Herring’s 29.61%. She will face Democrat Leroy Edwards in November.

Compere said she wouldn’t be where she was without God, and also the community is warm and supportive.

“My volunteer team was deep from the beginning, and it was just the top-down support from the community,” Compere said. “We’re excited to carry the same momentum into the general election.”

Another race that featured prominently was for County Court Judge Group 1, contested by three candidates. It was attorney Raymond Forbess’ 50.87% of 39,183 votes that surpassed Tonya Barge, 27.45%, and Geraldine Hartin, 21.68%.

Pulling up signs on Wednesday morning, Forbess said they knew it was going to be close. The seat had a 50%-plus-one rule to win like a few other races. Forbess has worked in private practice and for the State Attorney’s Office in Clay.

“We pushed as hard as we could to be done in August,” Forbess said. “I want to thank all of my volunteers. We had an unbelievable team put together.”

Former Gov. Charlie Crist defeated Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the Democratic governor’s primary in both Clay and the state. In Clay, Crist received 50.93% of the vote to Fried’s 42.21%. He faces DeSantis in November.

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