Candidate qualifying for county election begins Monday

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 6:37 PM
Last updated 8:31 PM
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Do you want to run for elected office in Augusta this year? It’s easy – if you are prepared.

Starting Monday, candidates for mayor, five Augusta Commission seats, five Rich­mond County Board of Edu­cation seats and two state court judgeships have a 4½-day window to make their intentions official and get their names on the ballot.

During this “qualifying” period, held in county election offices across the state, candidates for local elections such as Augusta’s will spell their names as they want them to appear on the ballot, pay a fee and sign a form swearing they are qualified to hold the posts they are seeking, said county Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey.

The week of qualifying often bears a tone of suspense, as candidates delay making their intentions official until they know what an opponent is doing, sometimes until the last possible moment.

With qualifying ending at noon Friday, March 7, Bailey offered a warning to those unfamiliar with downtown train traffic. A slow-moving Sixth Street train could prove an impassable barrier to a potential candidate who waits until the last minute, she said.

Another avoidable qualifying week mishap is candidates being unfamiliar with the requirements for office, most notably commission and school board district residency, in district lines that were redrawn last year, Bailey said.

“It’s a year following redistricting, and it’s important they know in which district they reside,” she said.

Some 28 candidates – including six seeking the mayor’s office – have announced plans to seek one of the 13 open seats and begin accepting campaign contributions, another election requirement. Barring a challenge to the candidate’s qualifications, the names of qualified candidates will appear on the May 20 ballot, or in the case of the school board, the Nov. 4 ballot.

The city charter requires commission candidates to live in their district and be a resident there for one year and of the state for two years.

Candidates must be at least age 21 and eligible to vote for themselves, in that they aren’t convicted felons who haven’t had their voting rights restored. They cannot have just served two consecutive commission terms, because the charter provides for term limits.

The requirements are the same for candidates for mayor, who represents the entirety of the county.

State court judges must be 25 years old, be admitted to practice law for five years, live in Augusta and have lived in Georgia for three years.

The final qualifying hurdle is the reason most candidates have already announced their campaigns: the qualifying fee.

The fee to run for commission is $360 and $100 for school board.

For the full-time positions of mayor and state court judge, the fee is much higher. A mayoral candidate must pay $1,950 to qualify.

The judge’s fee is $4,462.23 for the seat held by Chief State Court Judge Richard Slaby and $4,354 for the seat held by Judge David Watkins.

Next week doubles as the qualifying period for the May 20 state and federal party primaries, including several Augusta state House and Senate seats, but Democrat or Republican candidates for those offices qualify with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office in Atlanta.

QUIZ YOURSELF

ARE YOU A CITIZEN?

1. What committee controls what bills go to the U.S. House floor and the terms of debate?

2. After extensive debate, the framers of the Constitution agreed to create the House with representation based on population and the Senate with equal representation. This agreement was part of what is referred to as?

CURRENT EVENTS

3. What U.S. city was paralyzed by less than 3 inches of snow, a situation that left many motorist stranded for up to 22 hours?

4. The World Wildlife Fund reported fewer what made their yearly migration to Mexico in 2013 than any year since records have been kept.

U.S. HISTORY

5. In February 1870, which amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified which guaranteed all citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude?

6. Which U.S. president was impeached by the House in February of 1868, but later acquitted in the Senate?

AUGUSTA HISTORY

Question: How many signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in Augusta? How many delegates to the U.S. constitutional convention?

Answer: George Walton and Lyman Hall, two of Georgia’s three Declaration signers are buried beneath a monument in front of the Municipal Building. William Few, one of two Georgia delegates to the constitutional convention, is buried at St. Paul’s Church.

Answers:

1. The Rules Committee

2. The Great Compromise

3. Atlanta

4. Monarch Butterflies

5. The 15th Amendment

6. President Andrew Johnson


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