Yes, it is finished. Finally, in the death throes of an Oct. 15 runoff election, the leaders of a new government, all 10 of them, have been chosen. This election has had more ups and downs than the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia.
The original date, set by the consolidation legislation passed during the 2012 General Assembly, was Nov. 5, 2013. However, Republican lawmakers moved up the date by four months to July 16 during the 2013 legislative session. That made the U.S. Justice Department ask questions that couldn’t be answered in time for that election date and the Bibb Board of Elections had no choice but to delay the election.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act that effectively eliminated the pre-clearance provision in Section 5, but the decision came too late for the election to be held in July. Bibb County commissioners set the Nov. 5 election day as originally planned, but a lawsuit was brought to have the date set for Sept. 17. The parties reached an agreement and a federal judge set the Sept. 17 election day. But qualifying had to be reopened and one of the late qualifiers, Al Tillman, beat out incumbent James Timley.
In the midst of all of this the Bibb County Democratic Party was having an internal meltdown. Its members wanted a Nov. 5 election. They believed the turnout would be heavier, and sought to remove the vice chair of the Board of Elections for party apostasy. The local party also changed chairmen for the fifth time in less than two years and to raise money, it charged candidates an appearance fee to participate in its forums.
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Now we’re done. The 10 members of the new commission will be installed on Jan. 14, 2014. This election and all of its foibles are history. They can now concentrate on the work ahead -- and there is plenty of it.