Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Four More Candidates Qualify For May 19 Elections; 149 Cast Ballots On Second Day Of Presidential Primary Voting

***Competition For School Board Nomination***

Four candidates qualified for Oconee County offices on Tuesday, the second day of filing, setting up the expected competitive races for Republican nomination for Board of Commissioners chair and for the nonpartisan election of Judge of Probate Court.

Adam Spence qualified as a Republican for the open Post 5 on the Board of Education, making that race also competitive, as Michael Ransom had qualified as a Republican on Monday.

Jimmy Williamson qualified on Tuesday to seek the Republican nomination to replace retiring Sheriff Scott Berry.

Johnny Pritchett qualified for the Republican nomination for Board of Commissioners chair. Incumbent John Daniell qualified on Monday.

Mike Hunsinger qualified in the nonpartisan race for Probate Court Judge. George Roberts had qualified on Monday.

Incumbent Republican Houston Gaines qualified in Atlanta on Tuesday for Georgia House District 117.

On Tuesday, 75 Oconee County voters cast a Democratic ballot on the second day of early voting for the presidential primary, and 74 cast a Republican ballot.

Across the two days of early voting in the presidential primaries, 129 Oconee County voters have cast a Democratic ballot, and 130 have cast a Republican ballot.

New Qualifiers

All of the new qualifiers on Tuesday had declared their intent to run for office before filing except Spence. Spence ran unsuccessfully for Republican nomination for a Board of Education post in 2018.

Sign At Election Office 3/4/2020

Spence listed his occupation as police officer. He is a sergeant at the Jefferson Police Department. Ransom listed his occupation as consulting forester.

Williamson listed his occupation as law enforcement. He is retired police chief at the University of Georgia.

The Probate Court Judge election has generated much attention, with signs popping up around the county. The nonpartisan race will be decided at the May 19 election, unless none of the candidates gets a majority of votes.

Hunsinger listed his occupation as deputy police chief. He is with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. Roberts is deputy in the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Pritchett, mayor of Bishop and former Oconee County commissioner, listed his occupation as fire code specialist.

Gaines Qualifying

Gaines listed his occupation as financial services on his qualifying paperwork.

Democrat Mokah Jasmine Johnson filed on Monday for the Democratic nomination for the 117th House seat, which includes three Oconee County precincts, Athens Academy, Marswood Hall (formerly called Malcom Bridge), and Bogart.

Gaines was visible in Atlanta last week as the lead sponsor of House Bill 823, which passed the House without opposition.

HB 823 was one of three pieces of legislation pushed by Gov. Brian Kemp to address issues of Human Trafficking.

The bill sets a lifetime disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for persons convicted of “trafficking other persons for labor or sexual servitude.”

Chamber Forum

The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce is holding a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. March 17 in the auditorium at North Oconee High School, 1081 Rocky Branch Road. (I left the date out of my on Monday about the forum.)

Andrew Wallace, Oconee County Chamber Board member, will serve as moderator, according to Courtney Bernardi, Chamber president.

Candidates for Coroner, Clerk of Superior Court, the Board of Education, Probate Court Judge, Oconee County Sheriff, and the Board of Commissioners are being invited to participate in the forum.

Candidates who have no opposition also will be given a chance to speak, according to Bernardi.

As of the beginning of the presidential primary, 30,138 Oconee County residents are registered to vote, according to Jennifer Stone, assistant director of elections for the county.

NOTE: I incorrectly identified Spence's employer in an earlier version of this story. Spence notified me of the error on the morning of 3/5/2020. I apologize for the error and thank Spence for bringing it to my attention.

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