The leadership of Clay County's school district has been divided for several years with some School Board members in an unofficial war with Superintendent Charlie Van Zant.
On Tuesday, Clay County voters were just as divided about who should run the county's school district. All three races for school board seats were fairly close. (View Clay County primary returns)
One of those school board members who's been at odds with Van Zant was ousted, and another is headed to a November runoff.
In District 3, incumbent Tina Bullock was challenged by Betsy Condon, and Condon defeated Bullock, 52 percent to 48 percent.
In District 1, school board member Janice Kerekes faced challenges from Amber Shepherd and Kenny Leigh. Kerekes and Leigh will be headed to a runoff
“I am happy with the results, excited,” Kerekes said. “We are going to a runoff, which happened four years ago. The voters spoke four years ago, and I'm sure they'll speak again this time. I'm the candidate that is dedicated full time.”
Leigh said because of the in-fighting between the School Board members and the Superintendent, there needs to be change.
“What I take away from (the results) is what I knew from the beginning,” Leigh said. “The county is tired of the ugliness. The opponent that's in third place, Amber Shepherd, that lost, she was basically just like me. We do not like this ugliness. We have not been talking about other people.”
Some voters echoed Leigh's sentiment on Tuesday.
“I think we need to go out with the old in with the new in 2014 and 2016, and by then we should be able to pull our ranks back up,” said voter Carmen Queen. “It's completely corrupt, people have vendettas and it's a complete power struggle. They're not looking after our children or our schools right now.”
But others seemed less concerned about the in-fighting.
“How could you not hear about (the controversy)? But I think they're doing the best job they can, and I think there's a lot of politics involved in it,” said voter Charlie Baker. “I'm satisfied with the job they're doing.”
In District 5, with no incumbent, there was a three-way race between Ashley Gilhousen, Brian Graham and Sandra Dunnavant. Gilhousen and Dunnavant will also be headed to a November runoff.
That race has had its own drama. Gilhousen's mother is a Clay County Commissioner who started a group that had some controversy with Dunnavant. That group produced a voter guide and printed some opinions on same-sex marriage from Dunnavant, but Dunnavant said someone changed her answers.