Since March 2016, there have been doubts as to whether Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos was eligible for his seat. A judge answered the question Thursday.
Judge Monica Brasington, presiding judge in the case against the District 4 commissioner regarding his residency, ruled in favor of Hayes-Santos in her final judgement submitted on Feb. 23. She took 10 days to make her ruling.
The lawsuit centered around whether or not Hayes-Santos met requirements of residency to be eligible for the District 4 seat when he signed his affidavit of residency.
Jim Konish, Hayes-Santos’ former opponent for the seat, challenged that Hayes-Santos did not establish a permanent residence in District 4 when he ran. Konish said he did not live at 1125 NE Fifth Ave., the address Hayes-Santos wrote when he applied to run, long enough to be eligible to qualify for the city commission race.
Hayes-Santos and his team showed evidence that he lived at 1125 NE Fifth Ave. through family and friends who provided testimony that they saw him there. His team also showed various financial documents and records that contained the 1125 NE Fifth Ave. address on them.
In her final judgement, Brasington stated that Konish introduced no evidence that refuted testimony by witnesses that claimed Hayes-Santos lived at the address. She said that Hayes-Santos did admit to house-shopping, but that did not constitute Hayes-Santos abandoning his address that he claimed residency for.
Brasington ruled that Hayes-Santos provided ample evidence that he did legally reside at the address that allowed him to run for the District 4 seat. The evidence included witnesses who saw him there, as well as unwritten agreements shown to the court between Hayes-Santos and Zach Woodruff, his landlord, that showed Hayes-Santos did live at the address.
Konish said he is disappointed in the result, but believes the trial was conducted fairly.
“I respect the judge. She conducted a fair trial,” Konish said. “This case was about the integrity of our elections and about truth for the voter.”
Konish said he was truthful in his accusations and brought evidence that supported Hayes-Santos wasn’t eligible to the judge.
However, he currently does not plan to file an appeal, he said.
“I am willing to move on from this if they are,” Konish said. “However, if they want to keep fighting, then we will appeal.”
Meanwhile, Hayes-Santos said he is happy to have the case decided in his favor.
“It was a frustrating case, and I am happy the judge ruled in our favor,” Hayes-Santos said. “It was frivolous from the beginning. Konish was just trying to use this to get into office.”
Hayes-Santos said the next step is to begin to recover his legal fees that he spent on the case.
“I spent over $20,000 dollars on this case,” he said.
Nicholas Harvey, Hayes-Santos’s lawyer, said that they are currently in the process of motioning for a hearing regarding further recovery of the legal fees.
Steven Turnage, Konish’s lawyer, said they expect further litigation if Hayes-Santos attempts to recover legal fees.
“We don’t see that as a viable motion,” Turnage said.
Harvey said that there is a pending motion concerning his client’s legal fees, which is expected to still be under Judge Brasington’s jurisdiction and subject to Konish’s right for appeal as well.