Jeff Klare announced Monday he is withdrawing from the race for the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Seat 2D, citing conflicting interests.
Klare was running as a Republican against Timmy Rushing, also a Republican, and the winner of the May 22 primary election would face Democrat challenger Carlos Brown in November.
Now, Rushing is uncontested in the primary and will face Brown in the general election this fall.
While he asked that the news not be released until Monday, Klare told the Statesboro Herald on Friday that he believes being a county commissioner would interfere with a project he feels passionate about - helping to stop bullying.
He is organizing an "Anti-Bullying Day" event May 19 and said that as commissioner, he would not be able to be as "loud a voice" as he wishes when it comes to fighting bullying in schools, online and everywhere else.
Also, he said many have not taken his project as seriously, believing it to be a political stunt.
In an email to a Statesboro Herald reporter Monday, Klare wrote, "After much soul searching and conversations with my wife, minister and trusted friends I have decided to withdraw from the race for Bulloch County commissioner."
He said a recent campaign advertisement drew "many phone calls and conversations with people across the county ... about the schools and their children's safety and many had other issues that were important to them but felt no one was listening."
In planning the community event, he said, "Our Anti-Bullying Day event was met with much unacceptance from those in decision making positions due to thoughts of this day being nothing more than an election platform."
One has nothing to do with the other, he said.
While Klare said he would do much good as a county commissioner, he believes he will accomplish more through helping victims of bullying.
"The children and young people of Bulloch County need to have a voice," he said. "Anti-Bullying Day means more to all of us."
He spoke of meeting an eighth-grader at William James Middle School who joined the event committee.
"He and others like him are the future of America," he said.
While the Anti-Bullying Day is just one event, Klare said the project can't be limited to just one day.
"I can have a bigger, much louder voice than sitting inside the commission," he told the Statesboro Herald. "We need to make this vision a reality. This is a bigger mission and I am going to strive to it."
Klare created a website, Bullochlistens.com, that "will give people a platform to be heard. I might not be from around here, but I love my home and my life here," he said.
He signed an affidavit Monday regarding his withdrawal from the race, but his name is already printed on ballots, said Bulloch County Elections Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones.
"I will just place signs stating that he has withdrawn" for voters who may not have already heard of Klare's decision, she said.
Early voting began Monday.
Any votes Klare may get "will not count," she said.
Rushing seemed surprised Monday when he heard of Klare's decision to withdraw from the race.
"I appreciate his running a good, clean campaign," he said. "He is in my thoughts and prayers and if there is anything I can do to help, I will. I wish him well and appreciate him being an honorable man."
Klare said he talked to Rushing about the upcoming May 19 event.
"I spoke with Timmy Rushing and invited him and his family to Anti-Bullying Day and he accepted. It is time for all of us to come together as one county and stand up for what is right," he said.
Klare was set to debate Rushing on Thursday at a Republican forum at 7 p.m. at Ogeechee Technical College. Now, since the commission Seat 2D is uncontested, as is the race for Seat 1B, the only participants in the forum will be Bulloch County commission Seat 2B Republican candidates Travis Chance, Sid Jones and incumbent Walter Gibson. Democrat candidate Adrienne Hobbs will face the winner of that race in the November general election.
The third commission seat up for election is Seat 1B, for which incumbent Anthony Simmons (Democrat) is challenged by Republican candidate W. Scott Brannen.
Herald reporter Holli Deal; Saxon maybe reached at (912) 489-9414.