Tyra Byers qualified as a Democrat for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on the final day of filing on Friday, bringing to three the number of county races to be contested by both parties in November.
Incumbent Republican Chuck Horton, who holds Post 2 on the Board of Commissioners, did not get any Democratic or Republican challengers, meaning he will run unopposed in the May 22 Republican primary and in the November 6 general election.
It remains possible that someone can mount an official write-in campaign in November, with the deadline for filing paperwork for such a contest on Sept. 10.
Byers qualified to run for the seat now held by William “Bubber” Wilkes, a Republican. Wilkes will have opposition in the Republican Primary from John Laster, who qualified on Wednesday.
Byers, along with Andrea Wellnitz and Fran Thompson, who qualified as Democrats for Board of Education Post 2 and 3 respectively, will move beyond the May 22 Democratic primaries without opposition and have their names on the ballot in November.
Incumbent Board of Education Post 2 member Amy Parrish will have competition from Adam Spence in the May 22 Republican primary, while Incumbent Board of Education Post 3 member Kim Argo has no challenger in the Republican primary.
Byers’ qualifying on Friday for the Board of Commissioners race was the only change to the ballots for Oconee County voters for local and regional races in May and November.
Qualifications ended at noon.
No additional candidates came forward to qualify for the races for Georgia House District 117 and 119, meaning that Oconee County residents Steven Strickland and Marcus Wiedower will meet in the Republican primary in May for the 119 seat, with the winner taking on Democratic incumbent Jonathan Wallace from Oconee County in November.
Incumbent Democrat Deborah Gonzalez and Republican Houston Gaines, both of Clarke County, will not have primary competition and will meet in November in the 117th House District race.
Incumbent state Sen. Bill Cowsert of Clarke County has no primary opposition in May but will have Democratic opposition in November from Marisue Hilliard of Oconee County.
Three of Oconee County’s 13 precincts–Athens Academy, Malcom Bridge and Bogart–are in the 117th House District, with the remaining 10 precincts in the 119th.
All of Oconee County falls in the 46th Senate District held by Cowsert.
Congress And Superior Court
Incumbent District 10 U.S. Congressman Jody Hice from Walton County has primary opposition from Joe Hunt from Oconee County and Bradley Griffin of Jasper County in the May 22 primary.
Oconee is one of 25 counties that make up the 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Gwinnett County to the Savannah River and from Athens-Clarke County to Johnson County in the south.
Democrats will hold a primary to decide their party’s challenger to Hice, with Chalis Montgomery from Barrow County, Richard Dien Winfield from Clarke County, and Tabitha Johnson-Green in that race. Johnson-Green has no web presence and has not responded to questions about her campaign.
Lisa Lott and Regina Quick will meet on May 22 in a non-partisan race for the Superior Court judgeship now held by Quick, and Allison Mauldin and Eric Wayne Norris will run for the Superior court judgship now held by Norris.
The outcome of the vote in the Superior Court judge races in November will be final.
Oconee and Clarke counties make up the Western District for the Superior Court, where Quick and Norris sit.
Quick, Lott and Mauldin are from Clarke County, while Norris is from Oconee County.
Byers, 44, is a program coordinator at the University of Georgia, who lives at 1310 Station Drive off Simonton Bridge Road outside Watkinsville.
She will face either Wilkes, the incumbent, or Laster, a member of the Oconee County Planning Commission, in November for the Post 3 Board of Commissioners spot.
Byers, as well as Hilliard in the Senate race and Wellnitz and Thompson in the Board of Education races are political newcomers.
The Oconee County Democratic Committee began the year with the pledge to run candidates in all local races and did so with the single exception of the Post 2 spot on the Board of Commissioners now held by Horton.
With the exceptions of House District 117 and 119, which Democrats won in special elections in November, Republicans control all Oconee County offices and have been dominant in local politics going back more than 20 years.
The last time a Democrat appeared on the ballot for a Board of Education or Board of Commissioners race was in 2008, when Rich Clark was defeated by Tom Breedlove in a Board of Education contest.
The more the merrier. Ain't we got fun?
Opposition, competition, and debate are good for the American democracy, which was born a republic. We vote for our representatives to perform the crucial job of making decisions based on their qualifications.
Having to win over the voters greatly sharpens their message.
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