Statesboro, Bulloch, Portal and Register – and towns all over Georgia – will conduct candidate qualifying next week for nonpartisan city elections to be held Nov. 5.
Brooklet and Portal are the two towns in Bulloch County that have mayors up for election this year. Statesboro and Register do not, since their mayors are two years into a four-year term. All four towns have some council seats due to go before voters. But officials can cancel municipal elections, declaring an unopposed winner, when only one candidate qualifies for each seat.
Statesboro City Council has three seats due for election: District 2, held by incumbent Sam Lee Jones; District 3, held by incumbent Jeff Yawn; and District 5, where Derek Duke is the incumbent. All three incumbents intend to seek re-election, and Paulette Chavers has announced as a challenger for Jones in District 2.
The Statesboro Herald has heard of a Statesboro resident in one of the other districts considering challenging the incumbent. But as of Thursday, that potential candidate said she had not decided whether to run.
Because the mayor’s term is not up this year, Statesboro’s election will not be citywide but will be limited to those three council districts, at most.
Statesboro’s candidate qualifying will be overseen by City Clerk Sue Starling at City Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 19-23. The qualifying fee, 3 percent of a council member’s salary, is $227.
In Brooklet, the position of mayor, currently held by Mayor William Hendrix, will be on the ballot if there is one. Also up for election are Brooklet City Council Post 1, held by incumbent Randy Newman, and Post 2, held by incumbent Russell Davis. There are no districts, so all Brooklet council members are elected by voters all over town.
Candidates can file qualifying paperwork and pay their fees Aug. 19-23, Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. City Administrator and Clerk Angela Wirth will be in charge of the qualifying at City Hall, 202 E. Lee St., Brooklet. The fees are $90 for mayor and $54 for either council seat.
In Portal, the office of mayor, currently held by Mayor Billy Boggs, is up for election. So are Portal City Council Post 2, held by Jennifer Motes-Yates, and Post 5, held by Delina Woods.
Portal City Clerk Mike Arrieta will oversee candidate qualifying Monday through Friday, Aug. 19-23, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., in his office at 27209 Highway 80 West, Portal. Candidate fees are $288 for mayor and $45 for either council post.
In Register, three Town Council seats are up for election. These are the seat held by Tonya Boyd, one previously held by longtime council member Elaine Lee, who retired several months ago, and a third seat, said Register Mayor Barbara Rushing.
She wasn't sure which incumbent holds that seat, but officially, those up for election are seats 3, 4 and 5.
Qualifying will be open at Register Town Hall, 7 Main Street, just three days – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – Aug. 20-22, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Rushing said recently. The qualifying fee is $15.
A notice published in the Statesboro Herald as an advertisement by the town of Register on Feb. 6 had stated the qualifying period as “during the week of” Monday, Aug. 19 through Friday, Aug. 23, with starting and end times a half hour earlier and later.
Machines’ last fling
All four of the cities in Bulloch County conduct their own candidate qualifying. But only in Brooklet do city officials conduct the elections, and paper ballots are used there. Register, Portal and Statesboro have the county Board of Elections staff conduct city elections, using the state-issued, paperless touchscreen voting machines, which are slated for replacement next year.
Indeed, a federal judge this week ordered that Georgia must stop using the old machines at the end of this year and either have its new system in place for the March 24 presidential primary or revert to using hand-marked paper ballots. The state’s plan calls for electronic machines that produce a paper printout.