SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A candidate for the Seminole County School Board election filed a lawsuit Aug. 5, claiming another school board candidate violated election laws.
Dana Fernandez, who is running for the school board’s District 5 seat, told News 6 that fellow candidate Autumn Garick — who is also running for the District 5 seat — did not live in the district at the time of qualification for the election, which was June 17.
Florida law requires that school board candidates must be a resident of the districts for which they seek election.
According to the lawsuit, Garick changed the address on her voter ID to show she lived in Sanford prior to seeking qualification. The lawsuit goes on to claim Garick instead continued to live at her “True Residence” in Oviedo at the time of qualification.
According to the Seminole County Property Appraiser’s website, Garick is listed as a co-owner for properties in both Sanford and Oviedo.
The lawsuit reads that the Sanford property is a vacant lot and that Garick “is still occupying the True Residence during the day and overnight along with her husband and children.”
However, Garick told News 6 that she has been living in Sanford at the address listed on her voter ID, though that address is different from the property she owns.
Garick said she and her husband were trying to build a home in Sanford, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans were waylaid.
While she continues to oversee the construction of the home, she began renting a property in Sanford and has been living there since before the time of qualification, she said.
According to Garick’s campaign website, she has worked with Seminole County schools for 21 years and served on the board of the Midway Coalition in Sanford.
She told News 6 that she has “long ties” to the Sanford region and said that she would “not be distracted by frivolous lawsuits.”
The Supervisor of Elections’ office commented on the lawsuit, sending News 6 this statement:
On Thursday, Aug. 18, a circuit court found that Garick had properly established residency in the district prior to qualification, and so Garick remains eligible as a candidate for Tuesday’s Seminole County school board elections.
The school board elections in Seminole County will be held on Aug. 23. Check back with News 6 for live coverage during the elections.
[NEWS 6 HAS ATTACHED THE LAWSUIT DOCUMENTS BELOW]
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