Thursday, March 05, 2020

Four More Candidates Qualify For Oconee County Offices; No Democrats Have Filed, With One Half-Day Left For Qualifying

***More Democratic Than Republican Ballots Cast In Presidential Primary***

Four more candidates qualified for Oconee County offices Wednesday and Thursday, providing a second candidate in the race for Sheriff, a third candidate for Board of Commissioners Chair, a second candidate for Post 1 on the Board of Commissioners–all in the Republican Primary--and a third candidate for the nonpartisan Probate Court Judge race.

James Hale joined Jimmy Williamson in the race to replace retiring Sheriff Scott Berry. Both filings were expected, as the two have been campaigning for months for the May 19 primary and yard signs are already spread around the county.

Carol Bennett filed for Chair of the Board of Commissioners, joining incumbent John Daniell and Johnny Pritchett, who filed on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Jonathan Laster qualified for Post 1 on the Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Mark Thomas had qualified on Monday.

James Williams qualified for Probate Court Judge, joining George Roberts who qualified on Monday and Mike Hunsinger who qualified on Tuesday. The three meet in the nonpartisan race on May 19, with the top two going to a runoff if no candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote.

No Democrat has qualified for any of the Oconee County offices, with deadline for filing and qualifying at noon tomorrow.

Incumbents Tom Odom and Tim Burgess remain unopposed in seeking the Republican nomination for Chair and Post 4, respectively, on the Board of Education, and incumbents Coroner Ed Carson, Clerk of Superior Court Angela Elder-Johnson, and Tax Commissioner Jennifer Riddle so far have no opposition.

After the fourth day of early voting for the March 24 presidential primary, 486 of the county’s 30,265 voters have cast a ballot, with 281 using a Democratic ballot and 205 using a Republican ballot.

New Qualifiers

Williams, who qualified yesterday (Wednesday) in the Probate Court Judge race, listed his occupation as law enforcement. He is captain in the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Hale At GOP 2/24/2020

Hale, who listed his occupation as deputy sheriff (in the Oconee County’s Sheriff’s Office), qualified today (Thursday) for Sheriff.

Williamson At GOP 2/24/2020

Bennett listed her occupation as educator in her Board of Commissioners filing paperwork.

She qualified today (Thursday) and had been the first to come forward to announce her desire to challenge Daniell for the position of Commission Chair.

Laster listed his occupation as attorney in qualifying for the Board of Commissioners.

He is a former member of the Oconee County Planning Commission and ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Post 3 Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes in the Republican primary in 2018.

Early Voting

In the first two days of early voting, nearly equal numbers of Democratic and Republican ballots were cast.

On Wednesday, voters cast 92 Democratic ballots and 43 Republican ballots. Today (Thursday), voters cast 60 Democratic ballots and 32 Republican ballots.

Donald J. Trump is the only name on the Republican ballot, while the Democratic ballot contains 12 names, including the three active candidates Joseph Biden, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders.

In 2016, with 13 names on the Republican primary ballot, Trump received 30.9 percent of the 9,162 votes cast and was the top vote getter.

The Democratic primary ballot listed only four names, and Sanders received 47.2 percent of the 2,341 votes cast while Hillary Clinton received 52.4 percent.

At that election, the county had 21,429 registered voters.

Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 20 at the Board of Elections and Registration Office next to the Courthouse in Watkinsville. Saturday voting is on 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 14, also at the Board of Elections and Registration Office.

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