New District 1 candidate qualifies on final day

pramati@macon.comJuly 24, 2013 

Qualifying for the Sept. 17 nonpartisan special elections for the soon-to-be-combined Macon and Bibb County government closed Wednesday, setting the official slate of candidates for mayor and nine commission seats.

In a mostly quiet day, just one new candidate emerged.

Harold J. Young, a marketing manager who turns 49 Thursday, qualified just before the noon deadline to seek the District 1 seat. Young will face current Bibb County Commissioner Gary Bechtel. Before Young’s last-minute entry into the race, District 1 was the lone unchallenged seat.

The ballot lineup for the mayor’s race includes Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen, former Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop, perennial candidate David Cousino, former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, Commission Chairman Sam Hart and Mayor Robert Reichert. Earlier this week, local activist Anthony Harris was certified as an official write-in candidate, but his name won’t appear on the ballot.

Qualifiers for the commission seats are:

Commission District 1: Bechtel and Young;

Commission District 2: Paul Bronson, Henry Ficklin and Larry Schlesinger;

Commission District 3: Elaine Lucas and Terry Tripp;

Commission District 4: Mallory Jones III, Beverly Olson and Theron Ussery;

Commission District 5: Bert Bivins III, Jon Carson and Louis Frank Tompkins;

Commission District 6: Robert Abbott, Chhor Chav, Ed DeFore and Adah Roberts;

Commission District 7: Eric Arnold, Barry Bell and Scotty Shepherd;

Commission District 8: Regina Davis, Charles Jones and Virgil Watkins Jr.;

Commission District 9: Al Tillman and James Timley.

Bibb County Elections Supervisor Jeanetta Watson said the total amount of qualifying fees from the candidates was $29,250, which will be turned in to the county’s Finance Department. That money, in turn, will be applied to the cost of holding the election, which usually costs about $50,000.

Because the election is nonpartisan, the county doesn’t have to split the qualifying fees with the local Democratic and Republican parties -- something that is done during the primaries of partisan elections.

“This is the first time this amount of money is (the county’s) to keep,” she said.

It cost candidates $3,000 to run for mayor and $450 to run for a commission seat.

Watson said she and her staff would be working Thursday with Kennesaw State University, which is contracted to set up ballots. Watson said there has already been a high demand for absentee ballots, which will be mailed out as soon as they are printed.

Early voting will take place from Aug. 26 to Sept. 13. The deadline to register to vote is Aug. 19. If any runoffs are necessary, they will take place Oct. 15.

The election was postponed from its original date of July 16 to Sept. 17 after the U.S. Department of Justice failed to grant preclearance to the county under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A U.S. Supreme Court decision, however, overturned part of the act, thus clearing the way for an election with no preclearance necessary.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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