Decision could come Thursday on Hillsborough school board race
TAMPA — The outcome of the District 7 Hillsborough County School Board race, in which Lynn Gray is slightly ahead of Cathy James, will likely be determined Thursday evening.
A canvassing board will meet at 5 p.m., said Gerri Kramer, communications director for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.
By then, she said, about 1,400 provisional ballots - meaning those for which voter eligibility could not be immediately determined - will have been counted.
In addition, Kramer said, there is an unknown number of ballots that arrived by mail on Tuesday but could not be run through the scanners because they were ripped, folded or damaged in some other way.
If, after the calculations, the two totals are still within a half of a percentage point, there will be a recount.
Kramer did not say how long that would take, but the second unofficial election results are expected on Nov. 15.
The odds, based on the initial returns, are with Gray, who, at 236,724 votes, was 1,205 ahead of James.
But Florida law states that if the difference is under a half of a percent of the total votes cast, an automatic recount kicks in. The 1,205 difference represents 0.255 percent of the 472,243 votes cast.
James, a 58-year-old accountant with a son at Middleton High School, said she will await the results. “I just want to make sure the votes are accounted for, to make sure the process is complete,” she said.
Gray, 64, was slightly more optimistic Wednesday. “I’m comfortable with all the proceedings and I think we’ll still be good to go,” she said.
“I’ve already made an appointment with the Superintendent. Things are being set up.”
The winner will be sworn in on Nov. 22, along with Tamara Shamburger, who will represent central Hillsborough’s District 5.
District 7 is a countywide seat, and Tuesday’s returns showed pockets of strong support for both candidates.
Gray, a marathon runner and former teacher in both the public and Catholic school systems, dominated precincts in the northwest corner of the county, where she lives and operates a runners’ coaching business.
Gray also was the stronger candidate in a band of largely rural precincts in east Hillsborough; and in south Tampa.
James captured most precincts in the urban areas, Town 'N Country, New Tampa, and the western fringes of Brandon and Riverview.