School board candidate wonders if she's targeted by political group

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 22 2014 11:17:34 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2014 11:40:00 PM EDT

A candidate is questioning whether she's been targeted by a partisan political group. She falsified a survey that's been distributed to Clay County voters. But now the group is fighting back saying it has the duties to back up their flyer.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -

More political issues are popping up in the race for Clay County School Board. A candidate is now questioning whether she's been targeted by a partisan political group.

She's claiming someone falsified a survey she filled out that's been distributed to Clay County voters by the Clay Family Policy Forum.

But representatives of the group are fighting back, saying they have the documentation to back up their flier.

The policy forum's voters' guide has been distributed to church members and other voters in the county and contains questions and answers from each candidate about controversial topics, including gay marriage.

District 5 candidate Sandra Dunnavant said someone falsified her answer, and she questions who's behind it. She said it's so vicious she almost wishes she never ran for office.

"I wish my family and friends had taken me out in the parking lot and done an intervention, because I never thought it would be like this," Dunnavant said. "It's been so hurtful. And the only reason I'm staying in is because I'm plucky now and want to do a good job."

She said someone altered her answers to a few of the questions in the voter guide, including this one: "Same sex marriage should be legalized." The flier indicates that she supports that statement, but she said she left that answer blank on the questionnaire.

"I've been attacked on Facebook. I've been called all kinds of names. And I even had a threatening email that they would destroy me by video," Dunnavant said. "I'm a 43-year veteran in the Clay County school system, and I have never in my life seen anything like this."

But Mary Lib Stephenson, who runs the Clay Family Policy Forum, is fighting back against Dunnavant's claim. She said she has the original form, and she claims it shows Dunnavant answered that she supports same sex marriage.

"Mine is the original. It has her original black ink initials," Stephenson said. "When I looked at her page 5, the initials were exactly as they were on mine. Well, this could not be unless they had Photoshopped it."

But there's another issue here that has Dunnavant concerned. The back of the flier endorses County Commissioner Diane Hutchings, who started the Clay Family

Policy Forum in 2006. Hutchings is no longer affiliated with the group, but her daughter, Ashley Gilhousen, is running against Dunnavant for the District 5 seat.

Dunnavant can't help but wonder if that has something to do with this.

Ashley Gilhousen said there's nothing underhanded going on, saying the "accusations are unfounded. The rules were clearly provided to complete the survey and our campaign followed the rules."

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