Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Appointed Superintendent on Ballot Stymied by Time; Clay Proposal Short on Days to Be in Step with Open Meetings Law

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Appointed Superintendent on Ballot Stymied by Time; Clay Proposal Short on Days to Be in Step with Open Meetings Law

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Kealoha Causey

FLEMING ISLAND | A Clay County School Board member who said last week's election of the county's superintendent mocked the voting process proposed a radical maneuver to undo the results.

But she found out Wednesday she won't get her way because of open meetings law.

Board member Janice Kerekes during Tuesday's meeting said the board should let county voters decide on the November ballot whether they want the superintendent to be elected or appointed by the board.

"The recent election was conducted in a manner in which [it] subverted the true will of the people by the use of a sham candidate to disenfranchise the electorates," Kerekes said in a school system-produced video. "This is imperative that we have an appointed superintendent and not an elected one."

School Board member Charlie Van Zant Jr. defeated Superintendent Ben Wortham in last week's Republican primary. In the general election, Van Zant faces a write-in candidate, whose appearance on the ballot closed the primary to independents and Democrats.

Kerekes said Wednesday her proposal - which wasn't on the board agenda - wasn't intended to oust Van Zant. She said a superintendent should be an administrator motivated by organizational goals, not political campaigns.

"I wanted to have this put on a presidential ballot so that all the voters would come out and could vote on it," she said. "Mr. Van Zant is a very good man. I know that he will do the best that he can. But can it be what we need to run our 41 schools?"

Van Zant issued a statement Wednesday that said Kerekes' proposal violated the public's trust and would be "like President Obama declaring [martial] law before the election just to stay in office."

"It's unfortunate that this underhanded political stunt was pulled," Van Zant said. …

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