New Warner Robins elections head prepares for November voting

chwright@macon.comSeptember 2, 2013 

WRelections

Kathy Cummings, Warner Robins elections superintendent, helps mayoral candidate Mike Brashear qualify last week.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

WARNER ROBINS -- The city’s new elections superintendent has a different title than her previous job, but this won’t be her first election.

“My title was assistant city clerk,” Kathy Cummings said. “But I was doing the very same thing I do here. I was the licensing coordinator, and I was the elections superintendent.”

Cummings will oversee her first Warner Robins election Nov. 5. She’s responsible for overseeing all election tasks, from qualifying candidates to setting up precincts to the ultimate ballot count.

“From my lips to God’s ears, I hope to see it all come off smoothly,” Cummings said.

Qualifying for council Posts 1, 3 and 5 and the mayor’s race was held last week. Qualifying for council Post 4 will be held this week. The Post 4 position opened up after Councilman Mike Brashear resigned his seat when he qualified for mayor.

Cummings was hired last summer when Vida Rawls retired after nearly 25 years with the city, the last five spent as elections superintendent.

“I was scared to death when Vida left. I didn’t know if I could find someone who could hit the ground running,” City Clerk Alton Mattox said. “And she (Cummings) did just that.”

Mattox said he was impressed with Cummings’ previous experience in Cordele.

Cummings is originally from Conyers. She married a man in Fort Valley six years ago but was commuting between her job in Cordele and her Fort Valley home.

Rawls’ retirement opened a perfect escape from the daily trek up and down Interstate 75.

“She fits right in,” Mattox said.

Cummings sees herself as a neutral party responsible for making sure elections go off without a hitch and that everyone follows the state elections code.

“I’m a firm believer in everybody having to follow the same rules,” she said. “No special rules for this one, and no special rules for that one.”

When a potential candidate tells Cummings about intentions to run for office, she has a prepared packet she gives the person and then answers any questions. The packet includes requirements for state filings about campaign contributions and personal finances, resources for the candidates and a two-page legal “notice of intent.”

Once a candidate qualifies for a race and pays the respective fee -- $3,000 for the mayor’s race and $252 for the council races -- Cummings verifies the name, date of birth and district, as well as whether the candidate’s tax bill is up to date.

As long as the candidate’s check clears the bank, his or her interaction with Cummings is pretty much complete. After qualifying, she turns her attention back to preparing for early voting and Election Day.

All precincts are the same this year. For the general election Nov. 5, Cummings said she is preparing to have six or seven poll workers. Two of those will be management roles.

A smaller staff will be used for early voting between Oct. 15 and Nov. 1, when only the City Hall polling place will be open.

And though the mayoral candidates have said they’re campaigning as if they’ll win in the general election, Cummings said she’s “fully anticipating a run-off.”

But all three voting periods shouldn’t be problematic, Cummings said, especially since she has backup.

“Everybody around here is good about, ‘What do you need?’ ” she said. “There’s always someone to help.”

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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