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Qualifying week gives Bulloch voters choices

3 races for county commission, 2 for school board

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Qualifying week gives Bulloch voters choices

Two more candidates qualified Friday for Bulloch County Board of Commissioners seats, heading toward the May 22 primary election and Nov. 6 general election.

When qualifying closed after four and a half days of opportunity, all three commission seats up for election had contested races, involving a total of nine candidates. Meanwhile, two of the four Bulloch County Board of Education districts due this year had contested races, with two candidates each.

Commission races

Republican Scott Brannen, a local attorney, qualified Friday to run for commission Seat 1-B, challenging Democratic incumbent Commissioner Anthony Simmons. They will appear separately on their parties' May 22 primary ballots but face off in the general election Nov. 6.

A Bulloch County native, Brannen previously worked as a prosecutor for the state for 10 years but now has a private law practice. He graduated from Georgia Southern University with double degrees in political science and English and earned his juris doctorate from the Sanford University Cumberland Law School in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1999.

Brannen hopes to focus on economic growth, agriculture, education and availability of jobs if elected.

Adrienne Dobbs, a Democrat, entered the race for commission Seat 2-B. In November, she will face the winner from among three Republicans vying for their party's nomination in the May 22 primary.

The Republican candidates are incumbent Commissioner Walter Gibson and challengers Sid Jones and Travis Chance, former Statesboro city councilman. If one of the three does not receive a majority of votes May 22, two would advance to a primary runoff July 24.

Dobbs said she hopes to address issues in Bulloch County including road safety and improvement.

She moved to Statesboro at age 17 to attend Georgia Southern University, living here from 2002 until 2010. She returned in 2012 and attained a master's degree in education from GSU. She teaches students in grades 8-12 at Statesboro's STEAM Academy. She is married to Chad Dobbs.

The Seat 2-D commission race, whose candidates all qualified earlier in the week, also involves stages to be decided May 22, when Republicans Jeff Klare and Timmy Rushing face off on the GOP ballot, and Nov. 6, when the winner of that primary will meet Democrat Carlos Brown.

The incumbent, Commissioner Robert Rushing, is not seeking re-election.

BOE contests

Because the school board is nonpartisan, the two contested seats will be decided May 22, when Democrats and Republicans all receive the nonpartisan general election ballot along with the their party's primary ballot.

Adrianne McCollar and April Newkirk will face off in BOE District 4, where incumbent member Steve Hein is not seeking re-election.

On her qualifying form, McCollar stated that she has been a resident of Georgia for 30 years, of Bulloch County for
19 years and of District 4 for eight years. She grew up in Norcross, then arrived here as a student at Georgia Southern, where she attained both a bachelor's degree, majoring in political science, and a master's degree in public administration.

McCollar is now employed by the university as facilities superintendent, in charge of a large department on the Statesboro campus. She and her husband, Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar, have five children, three of whom are enrolled in Bulloch County schools and all in Georgia public schools.

Newkirk indicated that she has been a resident of Georgia for 37 years, of Bulloch for 18 years and of District 4 for two years. An instructor in Georgia Southern University's College of Education since 2008, she attained both her master's degree in education and her bachelor's degree, majoring in early childhood education, from GSU.

Newkirk and her husband have three sons, two of whom are in the public schools and one still preschool age.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Felton, who was Bulloch County Schools assistant superintendent from January 2014 through June 2017, qualified Wednesday as a candidate for Board of Education in District 5. This means she is challenging District 5 incumbent board member Glennera Martin, who qualified Tuesday.

When Bulloch Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson did not offer Felton a renewed contract in the spring of 2017, she revealed that she had a job lined up as an assistant principal at Claxton Elementary School in Evans County. She continues in that position but remains a Bulloch County resident.

Felton holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from South Carolina State University and master's and specialist's degrees in education from Barry University. She received her doctorate in educational leadership in 2008 from Nova Southeastern University.

Martin, first elected to the Board of Education in 2014, had retired from a 44-year career as a teacher and administrator. She attained her education specialist degree in administration and instructional support from the University of Georgia, taking some classes at Georgia Southern. Her master's degree is also from UGA; her bachelor's degree, from Savannah State University.

On the candidate forms, Martin stated that she has been a resident of Georgia for 74 years and of Bulloch County and her district for 40.

Two unopposed

The only candidates to emerge from qualifying week unopposed are incumbent school board members Mike Sparks in District 2 and Jimmy "Jay" Cook Jr. in District 6.

Sparks, now in his eighth year on the board, was unanimously chosen by the eight members in January as chairman for 2018. He is a retired teacher and coach.

Cook, first elected to the board in 2014, is vice president and branch manager of the BB&T Bank on North Main Street. He and wife Candice Cook have a son and daughter, 16-year-old twins, who attend Statesboro High School.

Herald staff writers Al Hackle and Holli Deal Saxon both contributed to this report.



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