Originally created 03/16/04

Party filing begins for offices



AIKEN - Today marks the start of party filing for federal, state and local political offices in Aiken County and the beginning of a busy election season.

The county's three state senators and six state representatives are up for re-election, as are five Aiken County Council members and four members of the Aiken County school board.

Sheriff Mike Hunt's seat is up for grabs, and so is 2nd Circuit Solicitor Barbara Morgan's

But the only local seat that guaranteed a battle as of Monday was for late Aiken County Coroner Sue Townsend's position.

Chief Deputy Coroner Tim Carlton, former South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Bill Cole and Coordinator of Aiken County's Emergency Management Services Phil Clarke plan to file with the Republican Party and run for the seat, said David Nix, the party's chairman.

Democrat Ed Gladd also has discussed a bid for the seat. Charles Staples, the chairman of the Aiken County Democratic Party, did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment Monday.

Filing for elected office ends March 30. Primaries for contested seats will be held June 8.

The general election is Nov. 2.

As things stand, the presidential election and the dogfight to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., which includes five Republicans and a Democratic front-runner, state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, could overshadow local elections.

Mr. Nix and state Rep. Roland Smith, a Republican who is the Aiken County legislative delegation chairman, said no one has announced plans to challenge any of the county's state lawmakers.

They all are expected to run for re-election.

District 7 County Councilman Rick Osbon has announced that he isn't running for re-election, but so far only Republican Gary Bunker has announced his candidacy for the seat.

Aiken County School Board elections are nonpartisan.

Candidates do not have to file with a particular party to run in the election, but, they must submit a petition with at least 50 signatures to the Aiken County Voter Registration and Elections Office by July 15, Director Stuart Bedenbaugh said.

Candidates for the lone Aiken Soil and Water Conservation District seat on the ballot must gather 100 signatures.

Contenders for the Belvedere Fire Commission seat must collect signatures from 5 percent of voters in the district, and candidates for the Clearwater Water and Sewer Commission seat must gather 15 signatures.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803)279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.