Several new candidates for Columbia County offices offices and other local races have emerged during qualifying for the 2012 elections.
Especially crowded are the School Board races, with two challengers lining up to run in District 4 against incumbent Roxanne Whitaker, and two of three expected candidates filing to run for the vacant District 1 seat.
David Dekle and Carolyn Chase signed up on Wednesday, the first day of qualifying, to run for the District 1 School Board seat currently held by Wayne Bridges, who has said he does not intend to seek re-election. Republican Party Chairman Brian Slowinski filed to run for the non-partisan post on Thursday.
In District 4, which encompasses Grovetown, Harlem and Appling, Whitaker will face a challenge from newcomers Bobby Ray Strickland and Deborah Fisher.
Incumbent School Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco has filed to run for re-election, and no one has filed in opposition. All of the school board posts are non-partisan.
Also Wednesday, in partisan races, County Commission District 3 incumbent Charles Allen drew a Republican primary challenge from Butch Holley, while District 2 Commissioner Trey Allen faces a Republican challenge from Lee Benedict.
Other non-partisan candidates registering at the state level Wednesday include Superior Court Chief Judges Carlisle Overstreet, who drew a challenge from Willie Saunders, while judges Carl Brown Jr., Danny Craig, Sheryl Jolly and Michael Annis filed for re-election. Republican District Attorney Ashley Wright also qualified for re-election, and will face a General Election challenge from Democrat Evita Paschall. Those judicial posts cover the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties.
In legislative races, Republican District 24 state Sen. Bill Jackson filed for re-election, while District 23 state Sen. Jesse Stone is being challenged by Democrat Robert Ingham. Also filing were Republican District 33 state Rep. Tom McCall, District 122 state Rep. Ben Harbin and District 123 state Rep. Barbara Sims.
Republicans Barry Fleming and Mike Popplewell filed to run for the District 121 seat being vacated by Lee Anderson, who filed as a Republican on Wednesday for the redrawn 12th District U.S. Congressional seat.
Also filing for the 12th District post Wednesday were Republicans Rick Allen, Wright McLeod and Maria Sheffield. The winner of the July 31 Republican primary will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow in November.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun also filed to seek re-election in the 10th Congressional District Wednesday, and drew a Republican challenger: Stephen K. Simpson.
Qualifying ends Friday at noon.