Qualifying for five commission posts and five school board seats begins at 9 a.m. today in the office of Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey. It was moved from May by a federal judge while a lawsuit over district lines was contested.
At least 13 candidates have expressed an interest in the Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 commission posts, but only one person has announced plans to seek a seat on the school board.
School board incumbents are not term-limited and have a combined 43 years of experience. Two of the longest-serving, District 1’s Marion Barnes and at-large member Helen Minchew, first took office in 2000.
Richmond County Republican voters overwhelmingly approved term limits for
school board members in a primary straw poll, but implementing them would take an act of the Georgia Legislature.
Also up for re-election to the school board are retired educator Barbara Pulliam, who has represented District 4 since 2004; MAU site manager Jimmy Atkins, who has served for District 8 since 2004; and District 5 member Patsy Scott, who succeeded late husband Joe Scott in 2009.
The only announced school board challenger is a familiar name in Augusta politics. Robert Cheek, the brother of former Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek and a 2010 District 8 commission candidate, said he’ll file this morning to seek the District 8 seat.
The qualifying fee for a school board seat is $100.
With term limits preventing three Augusta commissioners from running again, the field of contenders for the five commission seats is likely to be much larger.
At least five people have announced intentions to run against District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken: former Coliseum Authority board member Bill Fennoy, whom Aitken defeated in a 2009 runoff; Harrisburg activist Lori Davis, who lost a bid for mayor in 2010; former Richmond County Green Party Chairwoman Denice Traina; former Laney-Walker Neighborhood Association President Stanley Hawes and Thelonious Jones.
In District 3, where Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles is term-limited, former Deke Copenhaver campaign manager Mary Fair Davis and
Augusta attorney Ed Enoch have been campaigning for months.
District 5 Commissioner Bill Lockett has no announced opposition.
Ken Echols is one of two men seeking to replace term-limited District 7 Commissioner Jerry Brigham. Echols, a retired hospital administrator, was elected to three terms on the school board starting in 1994.
Also seeking the seat are Donnie Smith, a lieutenant with the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown, and Brian Andre Marcus.
Spanning half of Richmond County, Super District 9 has no announced candidates seeking the seat held by term-limited Commissioner J.R. Hatney.
The qualifying fee for a commission seat is $360, and candidates must live in the district they want to represent.
Qualifying will be held during business hours today and Tuesday but ends at noon Wednesday.