Originally created 09/27/03

County plans quick election



It'll be a hasty campaign season, but Columbia County will be holding an election this year, officials said Friday.

A special called election Nov. 4 will decide the replacement for outgoing Columbia County Commissioner Mark Devoti, who won the seat last year. The Grovetown resident submitted his resignation Tuesday because he is taking a job in Hampton, Va.

On Friday, Mr. Devoti's final day as a member of the board, the remaining commissioners passed a resolution notifying the Board of Elections about the open seat.

County election officials also met to schedule the November date to fill the District 4 seat, which covers the Harlem, Appling and Grovetown areas.

"We're well equipped to handle a situation like this," said Debbie Marshall, the executive director of the Board of Elections. "It's not a countywide election; we're only dealing with nine precincts."

The county's only scheduled election this year was canceled because no one filed to run against Grovetown's incumbent mayor Dennis Trudeau.

The campaign schedule for the commission race will be tight, but officials said they were relieved that it could be done this year.

"We thought it was going to have to wait until March," Commission Chairman Ron Cross said.

Earlier in the week, officials were worried that a two-month notification requirement would have extended the race beyond the upcoming November general election date and force the fifth commission seat to remain unfilled until spring.

After researching the state's election code, County Attorney Doug Bachelor confirmed that only 29 days are needed before a special called election to fill a vacancy.

The winner of the special election will hold the seat for only about a year because Mr. Devoti had taken over the term of Barry Fleming after he became a state legislator.

Grovetown City Councilman George James and Peggy Lichtenberg, who ran against Mr. Devoti last year, have expressed interest in running.

The qualifying period for candidates starts Oct. 2 at 9 a.m. and ends Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. The filing fee is $195. District 4 residents have until 5 p.m. Oct. 6 to register to vote in the upcoming election.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.