Candidate qualifying begins on Monday
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Election season begins in earnest on Monday, when qualifying for local, state and federal offices begins.
Qualifying for the races, which include seats on the Coweta County Board of Commissioners, Coweta County Board of Education, and multiple state offices, runs Monday through Friday for Republican, Democratic, non-partisan, third party and independent candidates.
There is a second qualifying period in June for independent and “political body” candidates. Independent and political body candidates must file a nomination petition with the required number of signatures by July 8. Write-in candidates have until Sept. 2 to file their intent to seek office.
Candidates must qualify next week for both the May 20 primary and non-partisan election, and the Nov. 4 general election.
On the county commission, the District 3 seat held by Bob Blackburn and the District 2 seat held by Tim Lassetter are up. Both men have announced they intend to seek reelection. The qualifying fee is $420. The commission seats are partisan and candidates qualify with either the Coweta County Republican Party or the Coweta County Democratic Party.
Seats up for election on the board of education are District One at large, currently held by Larry Robertson; District One, held by Amy Dees; District Three, held by Harry Mullins; and District Four, held by Graylin Ward. There is no qualifying fee, but candidates must sign an affidavit saying they have read the state’s school board ethics rules. Candidates for the non-partisan race qualify with Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins. Scoggins said the ethics rules are short and can be read in her office.
The other local office up this year is Coweta’s state court judgeship held by Seay Van Patton Poulakos. This is also a non-partisan race, and the qualifying fee is $4,057.
State representatives and state senators must stand for election every two years. Coweta County has four state representatives and one state senator. The state representatives are Lynn Smith, R-Newnan; Carl Von Epps, D-LaGrange; David Stover, R-Palmetto; and Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City. Also representing Coweta is State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan.
Candidates for the state legislature qualify at the state capitol. Democratic qualifying is in room 230, and Republican qualifying is in room 216. The qualifying fee is $400.
Coweta County is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican who lives in the Grantville area and represents the Third Congressional District. All U.S. House members must stand for election every two years. Candidates for U.S. Congress also qualify at the state capitol, and the qualifying fee is $5,220.
Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, who represents the entire state, is not seeking reelection this year. The qualifying fee for the U.S. Senate is also $5,220.
Most other state offices, ranging from governor to school superintendent, attorney general and labor commissioner, are also up this year, as are several judges and some members of the Georgia Public Service Commission. All state and federal candidates qualify at the state capitol.
Qualifying fees vary and are set at a percentage of the annual salary for the post. Qualifying begins Monday at 9 a.m. and ends Friday at noon. Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday.
Nonpartisan candidates for local offices go to the Coweta County Board of Elections, located in the basement of the Coweta County Administration Office, at 22 East Broad St. in downtown Newnan.
Local Republican candidates qualify at 14 Greenville St. in downtown Newnan, and local Democratic candidates qualify at 8 Lee St. in downtown Newnan.
Elections Superintendent Scoggins recommends that candidates not wait until the last minute on Friday. If they forget an important document or there is any problem, they may not be able to qualify. Qualifying ends at noon, no matter what. Scoggins also recommends that partisan candidates stop by her office soon after filing to get information about required financial disclosures.
For more information, or for questions about requirements, contact Scoggins at 678-854-0015. You can download a candidate packet and get other important information by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, at www.sos.ga.gov .