Originally created 04/27/04

Two candidates qualify to run for commission



Qualifying opened Monday in Augusta for the July 20 general primary, nonpartisan and special elections, with two new candidates seeking seats on the Augusta Commission.

Political newcomer Pam C. Kitchens, a 50-year-old accountant, qualified to run for the District 1 seat, now held on an interim basis by Commissioner Betty Beard. Commissioners appointed Mrs. Beard to fill a vacancy created by the death of her husband, Lee Beard, in December.

Mrs. Beard has not yet qualified but has declared her intention to run for the unexpired term. Qualifying continues until noon Friday.

Augusta realty agent David Moretz, 47, qualified to run for the District 3 commission seat, now held on an interim basis by Commissioner Barbara Sims. Mrs. Sims was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former Commissioner Stephen Shepard stepped down in January to become city attorney.

The District 1 and District 3 seats that will be on the November ballot will expire Dec. 31, 2005. Those seats will be up for full four-year terms again next year.

Ms. Kitchens said she is running because she has a business, home and real-estate investments in District 1.

"And they've been devalued by what's going on in the commission," she said. "It's time for a change."

The Olde Town Neighborhood Association encouraged her to run, she said.

Mr. Moretz said he is running because he wants to make a difference on the commission to better Augusta.

"I think I'm like a lot of Augustans that have been sort of frustrated, irritated by all the things going on," he said.

Mr. Moretz ran unsuccessfully against then-state Sen. Charles Walker in 1991.

Richmond County State Court Judge Gayle Hamrick also qualified for another term Monday, according to the Richmond County Board of Elections.

Qualifying at Richmond County Democratic Party headquarters in Augusta were six incumbent constitutional officers and a new candidate for Richmond County State Court solicitor.

The incumbents are Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength; Tax Commissioner Jerry Saul, who is in his 28th year in that office; Clerk of Superior Court Elaine Johnson; Probate Court Judge Isaac Jolles; Chief Judge of the Civil and Magistrate Court William D. Jennings III; and Presiding Judge of Civil and Magistrate Court H. Scott Allen.

Harold V. Jones II, 34, qualified for the state court solicitor's job.

No candidates qualified at Richmond County Republican Party headquarters Monday, party Chairman Dave Barbee said.

In Columbia County, the situation was the reverse. Nearly all of the Republican incumbents filled out their qualifying paperwork, but Democratic leaders said no one contacted them to run in local races.

County Commissioners Lee Anderson, Diane Ford and Tom Mercer, Coroner Tommy King Sr., Clerk of Court Cindy Mason, Probate Judge Pat Hardaway, Sheriff Clay Whittle and Tax Commissioner Kay Allen met with the county's Republican Party to certify their forms.

Magistrate Judge David Huguenin was the only county official whose position is on July's primary ballot who did not show up to qualify, Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Lee Muns said.

Columbia County Bureau Chief Vicky Eckenrode contributed to this article.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.