Judge rules Campbell County School Board candidate is eligible to run in District 1 race

Haley Parnell
Haley Parnell
Haley is a reporter for LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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Judge Daniel Zalla has ruled that Campbell County School Board District 1 candidate is a bona fide candidate for the Nov. 8 General Election.

Janis Winbigler, the Campbell County School board chair, filed a lawsuit against her opponent in the District 1 race, alleging that Kailyn Campbell is not a bona fide candidate because she does not currently live in the district. Campbell resides in District 3.

Zalla heard the lawsuit in the Campbell County Circuit Court on Oct. 12. He did not conclude a decision at the hearing. He asked representation for both Winbigler and Campbell to submit an eight-page brief by Oct. 21. 

Zalla’s ruling comes just a little over a week before election day. The conclusion disagrees with Winbigler’s claim that Campbell is not a bona fide candidate. This is due to the decision by U.S. District Judge David Bunning in July, which called for the Campbell County school board boundaries to be redrawn because two of the five districts had too many people in them.

“Judge Bunning, by enjoining the use of the Campbell County Board of Education’s district maps, effectively removed the restriction (under KRS 160.180(2)(b)) that a voter must be of the district for which he/she is elected for the November 2022 election,” Zalla’s ruling stated. “Therefore, a candidate for the Campbell County Board of Education did not have to run within the district where he/she is a voter.”

His conclusion of the case cited Heleringer v. Brown, which states, “When statutory construction is uncertain, doubt should be resolved in favor of allowing the candidacy to continue.”

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Zalla’s conclusion further explained that had the school district maps been correctly drawn, Campbell wouldn’t have been eligible to run.

“Obviously, we disagree with the decision,” Winbigler’s attorney, Sue Cassidy, told LINK nky.

Cassidy said they are considering their options and will make a decision in due course.

“You can’t engage in unconstitutional conduct and then seek to reward yourself as a result,” Campbell’s attorney Brandon Voelker said. “She (Winbigler) was specifically told she was in the wrong by a federal court and then tried to remove someone (Campbell) and, as judge Zalla found, is in direct violation of that order.”

Campbell’s name will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

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