Monday, March 04, 2024

Thirteen Oconee County Candidates Qualify For Election In First Day Of Qualifying

***Three Qualify For State Races***

Oconee County’s four incumbent Constitutional Officers, the current Coroner, and the three sitting members of the Board of Commissioners up for re-election all qualified on Monday for the May 21 Primary and Nonpartisan election–so far without opposition.

In addition, incumbent Post 5 Board of Education Member Michael Ransom qualified for the Post 1 (Chair) position on the Board, Brock Toole qualified for Post 5 on the Board, and both Andrew Pippin and Russell Toms qualified for Post 4. All are running as Republicans.

Post 1, Post 4, and Post 5 have no incumbents, as Post 1 Board Chair Kim Argo and Post 4 Board Member Tim Burgess chose not to seek re-election, and Ransom switched from his Post 5 position to run for Post 1.

Incumbent Post 4 Watkinsville Council Member Christine Tucker also qualified on Monday. Watkinsville elections are nonpartisan, and Tucker was qualifying for the November election.

At the state level, District 121 Representative Marcus Wiedower qualified to run for re-election in the Republican Primary, as did John Michael Grigsby. District 121 includes parts of Oconee and Clarke counties, and both Wiedower and Grigsby are from Oconee County.

Incumbent Democratic District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez also qualified with the Georgia Secretary of State Office on Monday. The District Attorney represents both Oconee and Clarke counties. Gonzalez is from Clarke County.

Qualifying for county offices continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday. Qualifying that cuts across more than one county is handled those same days in Atlanta at the Secretary of State Office.

Qualified Local Incumbents

Constitutional Officers Sheriff James Albert Hale Jr., Clerk of Superior Court Angela Elder-Johnson, and Tax Commissioner Jennifer T. Riddle completed the paperwork on Monday to qualify in the Republican Primary.

The fourth Constitutional Officer, Probate Court Judge Michael David Hunsinger, qualified to run on the nonpartisan judicial ballot.

Ed Carson, the incumbent Coroner, also qualified to run as a Republican.

Board of Commissioners Chair John E. Daniell, Post 1 Commissioner Mark H. Thomas, and Post 4 Commissioner Mark T. Saxon also all qualified to run for re-election in the Republican Primary.

Three of the five seats on the Watkinsville Council are up for election, with Tucker so far the only candidate to qualify.

The terms of Post 3 Council Member Brett Thomas and of Post 5 Council Member Jeff Campbell also expire at the end of the year.

Board Of Education

The decisions of Argo and Burgess not to seek re-election created unusual openings on the Oconee County Board of Education.

Ransom, first elected to the Board four years ago, has lived in Oconee County for eight years and is a forestry consultant. He is seeking to move from Post 5 to Post 1, the Chair position, on the Board.

Pippin, seeking Post 4, lists his occupation as business development for Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood, an architecture and engineering firm. He has lived in Oconee County for seven years.

Toms, also seeking Post 4, lists his occupation as relationship manager. He has lived in Oconee County for nine years.

Toole, seeking Post 5, lists his occupation as entrepreneur on his qualifying form and is a former chief operations officer of Oconee County Schools. He has lived in the county for 14 years.

Other Races, Elections

Wiedower has served in the state House of Representatives since 2018. He lists his address as Watkinsville and his occupation as real estate.

Grigsby also lists his address as Watkinsville and his occupation as family nurse practitioner.

Gonzalez is completing her first four-year term as Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

Kalki Yalamanchili is seeking to get on the ballot in November to run for the District Attorney position as an Independent.

To get on the ballot, he has to obtain the signatures of 5,694 registered voters in Oconee and Clarke counties on a petition. He has until July 9 to obtain those signatures.

On Tuesday and Thursday (March 5 and 7), he is holding signing events at one location in Oconee County and two in Clarke County.

Representatives will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Oconee Veterans Park, 3500A Hog Mountain Road, in Oconee County, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Winterville Small Pavilion, and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Country Inn and Suites in Athens.

On Monday, 229 person cast an in-person vote in early voting in Oconee County, the largest number to turn out for early voting on a single day since that option became available on Feb. 19.

Early in-person voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday at the County Administrative Building, 7635 Macon Highway, north of Watkinsville.

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