Former county commissioner Scott Adams is asking a judge to remove Commissioner Scott Carnahan from the August Republican primary ballot, claiming Carnahan does not live within the district he represents.
Adams, who faces Carnahan in the District 4 primary, said in a lawsuit filed late Monday afternoon that Carnahan should also be removed from office because he claims a Floral City address on his voter registration when he actually lives in Crystal River.
Floral City is part of District 4 while Crystal River is not. Though they represent districts, commissioners are elected by voters countywide.
State law requires commissioners to live in the district they represent.
Carnahan used a post office box as his address on paperwork he filed with the Supervisor of Elections Office to seek re-election. However, his voter registration is listed at 9303 E. Kenosha Court, Floral City, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.
Adams’ lawsuit includes an affidavit from Linda Pautler, a corporate officer with Duval Islands Properties LLC, which owns the house. According to the affidavit, Carnahan rented the home in 2015 and 2016 but did not renew the lease after that.
Carnahan, who was served with the lawsuit shortly before the start of Tuesday’s county commission meeting, said in an interview that Pautler is incorrect and that he lived in a different house.
He said he lived in the district for two years and he and his wife have been looking for a house to buy within the district since then.
Asked if he lives in Crystal River, Carnahan said: “Sometimes I stay with friends in Inverness.”
He added: “I’m confident I followed the law and that we’ll prevail.”
Carnahan declined further comment, saying his attorney was reviewing the complaint.
Adams served on the county commission from 2012-2016, representing District 5. A Chronicle report in November 2013 noted that Adams resided in his 3,700-square-foot home in Inverness outside District 5, while using both a post office box and the address of a mobile home he owns on cattle grazing land in Hernando within the district as his official residence.
Asked about it at the time, Adams said he was following the law because he resides occasionally at the mobile home.
“I stay there part time,” he said in 2013. “I stay there sometimes.”
On Tuesday, Adams said the situations are totally different.
“I owned the trailer and I still own it,” he said. “Anybody could have challenged me and no one did.”
Supervisor of Elections Susan Gil is also named as a defendant in her official capacity.
Gill said people occasionally inquire or complain about the residency of county commissioners.
“It’s not my job to hunt this down,” she said. “I’m not the enforcer.”
She said the only remedy for an official complaint about a commissioner not living in his district is through the circuit court.
Adams, in his lawsuit, is asking for a temporary injunction, claiming Carnahan is violating the state Constitution that states one commissioner residing in each district if elected.
“...He must be immediately removed from office, may not run for re-election as a commissioner in District 4, and thus be removed as a candidate for the August 28, 2018 election,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also states: “Should Carnahan not be removed from office and enjoined from running for re-election in District 4 when he has not resided there in a considerable period of time, the Plaintiff and the other qualified electors in District 4 will be damaged and irreparably harmed by being represented by an individual who not only fails to lawfully reside in his district, but has lied on his voter registration and candidate oath.”
Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.