Kim Murphy’s re-election bid for the Lexington-Richland 5 School Board came to what could be an abrupt end Monday.
She was ruled ineligible to be a candidate on the Nov. 8 ballot in a decision by former South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal. Toal, active in retirement as a part-time judge, was assigned to settle a longstanding challenge to Murphy’s residency.
Murphy plans to appeal Toal’s decision, which comes at the start of absentee balloting for the school board and other elections.
School Board members Robert Gantt and Ed White questioned Murphy’s effort to rejoin a panel that ousted her in 2013 for not living in Richland County, as required for the post.
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The two went to court seeking to disqualify Murphy in the nonpartisan school board contest after Richland County election officials on Aug. 30 declined to do so.
Murphy long has been a critic of spending and management practices for schools with nearly 17,000 students on the north side of Lake Murray.
In her 23-page order, Toal said “the overwhelming evidence” shows that Murphy’s home is in Lexington County – not Richland – despite her contention to the contrary.
Gantt and White argued in their challenge to Murphy’s candidacy that updated state surveys of county borders in the Chapin area where she lives determined Murphy resides in Lexington County.
The surveys have never been adopted by officials in both counties, so Murphy long has paid taxes and voted in Richland County.
But Toal said the “informal agreement between the counties” is invalid because it does not match the borders adopted by the Legislature. The Legislature has the legal authority to determine boarders between counties that are defined in the Chapin area by markers more than 200 years old.
State geographers are rechecking borders in the Chapin area that have come into question even before Murphy’s residency was challenged.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483