Area residents have more than a new Augusta mayor and a sales tax to vote on May 20.
The Georgia Legislature's decision to move the state general primary and the nonpartisan election date to the date of the federal primary, May 20, pushed a handful of critical decisions earlier than Richmond County and Columbia County voters ever had to make them.
The choices include selection of Democratic or Republican nominees for about 13 state House, Senate and Columbia County Commission seats for which incumbents rarely draw opposition, even from the opposing party.
Once a candidate wins the primary, only a successful write-in or Independent can get on the Nov. 4 ballot to oppose the candidate.
The busiest races are for Augusta mayor, Augusta Commission District 4 and Georgia Senate District 22, the post being given up by Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, who is running for mayor.
The mayor’s post, elected countywide, has attracted four candidates: Davis, Commissioner Alvin Mason, entrepreneur Helen Blocker-Adams and businessman Charles Cummings.
All four have filed notices with the state of their plans to seek the post.
The runoff date for the May 20 election is July 22.
The District 4 commission post currently held by Mason already has attracted four Hephzibah candidates, and the Senate District 22 seat, representing most of Richmond County, has three Democratic contenders: Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, real estate agent Elmyria Chivers and lawyer Harold Jones.
None of the other nine incumbent legislators who represent parts of Richmond or Columbia counties have any announced opposition.
Also planned for May 20 is a seventh special purpose local-option sales tax for Augusta, although city officials haven’t made much headway in narrowing a $741 million wish list to a form to present to voters.