Hillsborough School Board contest between James and Gray remains a close

Hillsborough School Board District 7 candidate Lynn Gray.
Hillsborough School Board District 7 candidate Lynn Gray.
Published Nov. 9, 2016

TAMPA — The race to represent countywide District 7 on the Hillsborough County School Board appeared too close to call after polls closed on Tuesday.

Lynn Gray, a 64-year-old former teacher, pulled ahead of Cathy James, a 58-year-old accountant, but only slightly.

The two were within .32 of one percentage point of one another, which should trigger a recount.

James said she was optimistic about her showing in uncounted mail-in ballots.

"We should do really well in the vote-by-mail," she said.

She was disappointed, as early in the evening she appeared to be more than a percentage point ahead of Gray.

"We're going to keep the faith here," she said. "We ran a good race."

Gray, like James, was contemplating the next steps as she awaits the final results.

"I did the best I could, and I'm happy with what I did," Gray said of her campaign. "I have a sense of calmness because it's over with."

On the campaign trail, the career educator and marathon runner pledged to replicate teaching strategies that worked for her when she was in the schools.

James, who works as finance manager for the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, campaigned largely on her expertise in accounting. The board and the district are now wrestling with a host of financial issues, having learned last year that they were depleting their reserves.