Monday, March 02, 2020

Nearly Equal Numbers Of First Day Oconee County Presidential Primary Voters Use Democratic And Republic Ballots

***11 Candidates Qualify***

A total of 110 voters cast a ballot today in the first day of early voting for the March 24 Presidential Primary, with 54 of them using the Democratic ballot and 56 using the Republican ballot.

Eleven candidates filed their paperwork today to qualify for county offices, all but one of them as a Republican. Today was the first day to qualify for local and state offices.

Both Maria Caudill and incumbent Mark Saxon filed for Post 4 of the Board of Commissioners, guaranteeing at least one contest in the county for the May 19 party primaries.

George Roberts filed for the nonpartisan Probate Court Judgeship. That election also will be held on May 19.

Mokah Jasmine Johnson filed as a Democrat for the Georgia House District 117 seat now held by Republican Houston Gaines. Gaines did not file his paperwork today. Qualifying closes at noon on Friday.

In the 119th House District, Jonathan Wallace also filed today, as did incumbent Republican Marcus Wiedower. Wallace filed as a Democrat, likely setting up a rematch in November of the 2018 race between them. Both could have challengers in the party primaries.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert qualified in Senate District 46, as did Democrat Zachary Perry.

All of Oconee County falls in Senate District 46, while House District 117 includes Athens Academy, Bogart and Marswood Hall (formerly called Malcom Bridge) precincts, and House District 119 includes the remaining nine precincts in Oconee County.

Qualified Candidates

Incumbent Superior Court Clerk Angela Elder-Johnson qualified for that spot in the Republican primary.

Caudill 2/17/2020

Jennifer T. Riddle, currently Tax Commissioner, also qualified for reelection in the Republican primary, as did Coroner Ed Carson.

Tom Odom, currently chair of the Board of Education, qualified today, as did Tim Burgess, who holds Post 4 on the Board of Education.

Michael Ransom qualified for Post 5 on the Board of Education. Wayne Bagley, who currently holds that position, has stated that he will not seek reelection.

Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell qualified today, as did incumbent Post 1 Commissioner Mark Thomas.

Background Of Challengers

Caudill, who currently is chair of the Oconee County Planning Commission and formerly was chair of the Oconee County Republican Party, lists her occupation as administrative manager.

Saxon 2/25/2020

Caudill ran unsuccessfully for the Board of Commissioners in 2014.

Ransom lists his occupation as consulting forester. He is a member of the county’s Farmland Preservation Committee.

Perry says he is a law student on his filing paperwork.

Johnson lists her occupation as educator and activist, while Wallace lists his occupation as software developer.

Roberts is a deputy in the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

Presidential Ballot

Georgia does not have party registration, so voters get to pick the party primary they wish to participate in when they check in for voting.

The Republican ballot lists only the name of Donald J. Trump, while the Democratic ballot lists 12 names.

Those are Michael Bennet, Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

The county had 30,138 voters as of Jan. 31 of this year, Fran Leathers, director of Elections and Registration for the county, said at the Board of Elections and Registration meeting on Feb. 4.

The registration deadline for voting in the Presidential Primary was Feb. 24.

Chamber Forum

The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce is holding a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 17 in the auditorium at North Oconee High School, 1081 Rocky Branch Road.

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

Voters will be asked to submit questions in writing as they enter the auditorium, Bernardi said in a letter to be sent to the candidates. These questions, along with ones submitted by the Chamber partners, will be screened by the Chamber’s Forum Committee.

Only 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, Bernardi’s letter states.

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

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