Summer of politics
Key local posts up for grabs during July 15 primaries
BY ZACH MITCHAM
The annual Colbert Fourth of July parade will surely include a long procession of political candidates this year as key local seats will be up for grabs in the July 15 primaries.
Qualifying for local primaries wrapped up Friday, with all but one sitting commissioner facing competition. Mike Youngblood, a former Democrat who qualified as a Republican, won’t be challenged in District 3.
Meanwhile, each of the other incumbent Republicans at the BOC table will face challenges from fellow GOP candidates in the primaries.
County Commission Chairman Wesley Nash will seek a fourth term, but two challengers, Republicans Anthony Dove and Bill Usry, are vying to take that seat in the July primaries.
The surprise event of the qualifying session last week came in District 2, where former commissioner Johnny Fitzpatrick, who served as the Madison County Democratic Party chairman until April 19, switched parties and qualified as a Republican. He will face incumbent John Pethel Sr. and Republican Marion Cartwright, who has a pending suit against the county over a long-standing dispute regarding the status of Sam Bruce Road.
In District 4, incumbent Wesley Jordan, a Republican, will face a challenge from Republican Dewitt “Pete” Bond. Former District 4 commissioner Melvin Drake, who ran for county commission chairman in 2004, also qualified for the post, though he apparently resides in District 5. The county registrar’s office shows that he voted in February in District 5 in Comer. If Drake’s candidacy is allowed to stand, he will face the winner of the Jordan/Bond July primary election in November.
In District 5, incumbent Bruce Scogin, a Republican, will face Jim Escoe in July, with the winner running against Democrat Cathy Livesay in November.
Meanwhile, District 1 incumbent Stanley Thomas will face Jason Sartain in the Republican primary.
The county commissioners recently voted to implement staggered terms during this election cycle. The action means that county commission seats in districts 2, 3 and 5 will only hold two-year terms this time, with elections planned again in those districts in 2010. Four-year terms in those districts will resume after those elections. Meanwhile, candidates for chairman and district seats 1 and 4 are all vying for four-year posts.
While the race for seats at the commission table will draw plenty of attention, other elections in the county will garner plenty of notice as well.
Perhaps the most notable of these is the sheriff’s race, where incumbent Clayton Lowe, a Democrat, will seek his fourth term in office. Lowe was unchallenged for the seat in 2004, but he faces opposition from four candidates this year. The incumbent will face fellow Democrat Troy Asmus in July, with the winner of that primary running in November against the winner of the Republican primary, which will include John Dove, Larry Smith and former Madison County Sheriff’s Department deputy Kip Thomas.
Long-time tax commissioner Louise Watson, a Democrat, will face a challenge from Republican Kathy Stamps, who formerly worked in the county tax commissioner’s office.
Madison County State Senator Ralph Hudgens, a Republican in District 47, which includes all of Madison County, will face a challenge from Democrat Tim Riley, Athens.
Several local officials won’t face any competition in 2008.
State House representatives Alan Powell, a Democrat in District 29, which includes the northern part of Madison County, and Tom McCall, a Republican in District 30, which includes the southern part of the county, will both run unopposed.
Likewise, Democrats Bob Lavender, District Attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit; Michelle Strickland, Clerk of Superior Court for Madison County; and Michelle Cleveland, Madison County Coroner; will all run unopposed this year.
The race for the U.S. 10th District Seat in the House of Representatives will include incumbent Paul Broun and Republican challenger Barry Fleming, with the winner facing Democratic challenger Bobby Saxon in November.
The office of the Judge of Probate Court and the Board of Education districts are non-partisan. Qualifying for these offices will open at 9 a.m. on June 23, 2008, and close at noon on June 27, 2008. These candidates will qualify in the office of the election superintendent in the government complex. The qualifying fee for probate judge is $1,491.65, while the fee to qualify for Board of Education posts 1, 3, 4 and 5 is $78.26.
Cody Cross, an investigator for the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, has announced his intent to run against long-time probate judge Donald “Hoppy” Royston.
The non-partisan elections will be held during the general elections on Nov. 4.