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Qualifying begins today

By Justin Reedy

Candidates will begin qualifying with Clayton County election officials today for a special election to fill a vacancy on the county Board of Education.

The candidates will vie for the District 8 seat on the school board, which was left vacant when board member Susan Ryan resigned the post earlier this year. A special election will be held Sept. 16 to fill that position.

One potential candidate, retired principal Frank Brandon, had intended to run for the post but later discovered he no longer lives in District 8. The school board district lines were re-drawn last year to take into account population changes reflected in the 2000 Census data, and the new district lines took effect this year.

Candidates for the school board seat have to pay a filing fee of $216 and register at the Clayton County Probate Court on the first floor of Courthouse Annex 3, 121 South McDonough St., Jonesboro.

The school board vacancy was going to be filled by an appointee before the state legislature passed Senate Bill 374, which requires a special election to fill any vacancies on the county school board when more than 180 days remains on the term of office. The idea for that law, which was co-sponsored by state Sen. Valencia Seay, D-College Park, came about when Ryan resigned from the school board only months into her term, leaving most of the four-year term left for that seat. Since no local legislation had been drafted regarding such a vacancy, the generic state law would have applied.

State law calls for a special election if more than two years and three months are left in the term, but that election is held at the same time as the next general election. That means in the November 2004 election, a person would have been elected to fill the two years left on the District 8 post, replacing the person appointed by the board to serve in the interim.

Residents and local legislators were disappointed to hear that the state law called for an appointee n as opposed to a duly-elected board member n to serve for nearly two years on the board before being replaced.

Three possible candidates for the school board seat include the people nearly appointed to fill the vacancy earlier this year: Mary Mallory, Daryl Mosh and Oscar Blalock. None of those three were approved by a majority of the school board as appointees to the District 8 seat.