Apparently it’s going to be a busy election year in Columbus.
The time to qualify to run for local office still is three months away, and already four candidates have filed a “notice of intent” to run for mayor, to succeed Teresa Tomlinson when her last term ends this year.
So far the nonpartisan candidates include better-known names such as former District 8 Muscogee County School Board representative Norma Elizabeth “Beth” Harris, who filed her notice Aug. 28, and citywide Post 10 Columbus Councilor Berry H. “Skip” Henderson III, who filed Sept. 15.
They are joined by Charles Edwin Roberts, who gave notice Aug. 29, and Christina Thorington, who filed her notice of intent Dec. 20.
Council, school board
Three candidates have given notice that they will run for nonpartisan Columbus Council seats:
Charmaine Crabb on Aug. 24 filed to run for the District 5 seat currently held by Mike Baker.
Waleisha Shanell Wilson filed Aug. 24 to run for the District 7 seat held by Evelyn “Mimi” Woodson, and Jeremy Scott Hobbs, a frequent political candidate here, filed Aug. 29 to seek that same position.
The odd-numbered council posts are on the ballot this year. The others are the District 1 seat held by Jerry “Pops” Barnes; the District 3 seat held by Bruce Huff; the citywide Post 9 seat held by Judy Thomas.
During election years in which the odd numbered council seats are up for grabs, the even numbered Muscogee school board posts are on the local, nonpartisan ballot: the District 2 seat held by John Thomas; the District 4 seat held by Naomi Buckner; the District 6 seat held by Mark Cantrell; the District 8 seat held by Frank Myers; and the at-large post held by Kia Chambers.
Statewide, Georgia this year will elect a new governor to succeed Republican Nathan Deal, a new lieutenant governor to succeed Republican Casey Cagle, and a new Secretary of State to succeed Republican Brian Kemp.
State legislative seats also will be on area ballots:
For the Georgia House of Representatives, those include the District 133 seat Republican John Pezold is leaving; the District 134 seat held by Republican Richard Smith; the District 135 seat held by Democrat Calvin Smyre; the District 136 seat held by Democrat Carolyn Hugley; and the District 137 seat held by Democrat Debbie Buckner.
Columbus’ two Georgia Senate seats will be up this year, too: the District 15 seat held by Democrat Ed Harbison, and the District 29 seat held by Republican Josh McKoon, who is running for Secretary of State.
The two area U.S. Congressional seats that come up every two years also will be on local ballots: the 2nd District held by Democrat Sanford Bishop and the 3rd District held by Republican Drew Ferguson.
Candidates for local office will qualify from 9 a.m. March 5 until noon March 9. Columbus Council is to set those qualifying fees this month, so they can be published before Feb. 1, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registrations.
The deadline to register to vote in the May 22 state party primaries and local nonpartisan elections will be April 23. Residents should be aware that elections workers periodically purge voter rolls of people who’ve not voted in recent years or responded to mailers inquiring about their voter registration.
Those unsure of their status may check it online through the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page,” www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Some Columbus voters will need to note two precinct changes this year.
Voters last year complained that a poll in the National Infantry Museum off South Lumpkin Road at 1775 Legacy Way was isolated and inconvenient, as they not only had to drive to get there but faced an extended walk from the parking lot to the door, though a shuttle service was offered.
Their petition for another site came too late to change the location before the 2016 elections, but the elections board decided this year to move that poll to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church at 1953 Torch Hill Road and to consolidate it with the precinct just down the street at Eddy Middle School, 2100 S. Lumpkin Road.
The latter move continues a trend of relocating voting polls from local schools, where traffic congestion and concerns about student safety complicated school operations on Election Day.
Voters should remember that because the May 22 party primaries will coincide with local nonpartisan elections, they must choose a Democratic, Republican or nonpartisan ballot, and they can’t vote in both party primaries.
The nonpartisan races will be on all the ballots. If voters choose only a nonpartisan ballot, they will not get to vote in either party primary.
The times and location for early voting already have been set: From April 30 through May 18, advance in-person voting will be held in the Community Room of the Columbus’ City Services Center off Macon Road at 311 Citizens Way.
If any state or local races go to a runoff, it will be July 24.
That election will conclude the local, nonpartisan elections for mayor, council and school board. Next nominees from each party go on to the statewide General Election on Nov. 6.
The deadline to register to vote in that election will be Oct. 9.
Early voting in Columbus will be Oct. 15 through Nov. 2, also in the Community Room of the City Services Center off Macon Road.
If a runoff is necessary, it will be Dec. 4.