It's official: Lynn Gray joins the Hillsborough County School Board
Lynn Gray, a former teacher and long distance running coach, will be sworn in on Tuesday as an at-large member of the Hillsborough County School Board.
The Supervisor of Elections made Gray's victory official Friday afternoon, after a validation and recount process that for Gray, an accomplished marathoner, must have felt like a 28th mile.
The recount was necessary under state law because on Election Day, Gray's 1,205-vote lead over opponent Cathy James was less than a half a percent of all votes cast in the race. That lead grew to 1,233 after election officials sorted through the provisional ballots. But the margin was still only 0.26 percent, which required officials to recount the more than 608,000 ballots, a record for Hillsborough.
When it was over Friday afternoon, 64-year-old Gray said, "I feel relieved. And I feel really excited about helping us move forward in education."
James, a 58-year-old accountant who ran on a platform of helping the district sort out its finances, was also upbeat on Friday.
"I appreciate everybody's patience and all their well wishes during the last 10 days," she said, adding that she congratulated Gray and hopes to attend Tuesday's noon board meeting, when Gray and newly elected Tamara Shamburger will be installed on the seven-member board. The two seats opened up when longtime members Carol Kurdell and Doretha Edgecomb decided not to seek re-election.
James and Gray both ran grass-roots campaigns with relatively little funding.
Gray, whose views are slightly more conservative, turned out more votes in the Northwest suburbs and rural East Hillsborough while James, a progressive, was stronger in central Tampa and Town 'N Country.
With a son at Middleton High School, James said she intends to stay involved in educational and social issues.
"Candidates come and go," she said. "But advocates are in it for the duration."