With the May 22 primary election coming up, some voters may be confused about the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners voting districts, and even the county commission chairman and elections supervisor agree that the lines are rather challenging to understand.
Bulloch County has two commission voting districts, six commission seats and one "at large" seat, which is the commission chairman's seat, said Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson.
Two commission seats cover District 1, while four cover District 2. That may not be hard for most to understand, except the lines between the districts are not straight and clear but meandering and uneven.
Bulloch County Elections Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones said the districts were drawn years ago by legislators according to population demographics.
Thompson further explained the rambling district lines were drawn to "create a district favorable for minorities," which is District 1.
District 1 covers the upper northwestern corner of the county, portions of Statesboro, Register and Portal, and the northwestern border of the county. It is spotty and intertwines with District 2, which covers the large majority of the county, including Brooklet, Nevils, Stilson and a large part of Statesboro — just about the entire lower half of the county and the entire eastern border, according to maps provided to the Statesboro Herald by Jones.
Seat 1A is held by Commissioner Ray Mosely, and his seat is not up for election this year, as commission seats are staggered. Seat 1B incumbent Anthony Simmons, a Democrat, will be challenged by Republican candidate W. Scott Brannen in November.
On May's primary election ballots, only Brannen's name will appear on Republican voters' ballots, while Democratic voters will see only Simmons' name. Both candidates will appear on the general election ballots in November.
District 1 was created to include the areas with the most minority populations, Thompson said. Historically the two District 1 seats (A and B) have been held by minority commissioners.
Mosely and Simmons are black. Brannen, who also lives in District 1, is white.
District 2, as it is drawn, was populated mostly by whites when the lines were drawn, Thompson said. The lines were drawn to help ensure minority citizens are fairly represented, he said.
Seats 2B and 2D are up for election this year, with Seat 2B incumbent Walter Gibson challenged in the primary election May 22 by Republicans Sid Jones and Travis Chance. Whoever wins the primary will face Democratic candidate Adrienne Dobbs in November for the general election.
Seat 2D Republican incumbent Robert Rushing did not qualify to run again, but his nephew Timmy Rushing did. He was opposed by Republican Jeff Klare, but Klare withdrew from the race Monday.
In November, Rushing will be challenged by Democrat Carlos Brown, who is black.
Bulloch County commission Seats 2A and 2C, held by incumbents Curtis Deal and Jappy Stringer, are not up for election this year.
Residents can consult the district maps to determine the district in which they live, and the appropriate candidates will appear on their ballots. Klare's name will appear on ballots for the commission Seat 2D, but as he withdrew, any votes he may receive will not be counted, Jones said.
Residents living in District 1 will see two names on their ballots in November for just one seat, 1B: Brannen and Simmons. On ballots for the primary election, only one name will be on the ballot, depending on whether a person votes on a Democrat or Republican ticket.
District 2 voters will be selecting two commission seats: 2B and 2D. On primary election ballots, Republican voters will choose between Gibson, Chance and Sid Jones. In November, ballots will have the Republican winner of this race, along with Dobbs' name.
For Seat 2D in the primary election in May, Republican voters will see both Rushing's and Klare's names, but again, because of his withdrawal, votes for Klare will not be counted.
Democratic voters will see only Brown's name on primary election ballots. In November, voters will choose between Brown and Rushing.
Early voting for the May 22 primary election began in Bulloch County on Monday.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.