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Candidates raise more than $70,000

By Billy Corriher

For a list of this quarter's contributors see Pages 10,12A. For the complete list of all the contributors see the story on our Web site at www.news-daily.com.

Even though candidates for this year's election do not have to officially qualify until the end of the month, many candidates are already raising funds for their election bids.

Candidates for chairman of the county commissioners aren't wasting any time raising funds, with two candidates already claiming a war chest with tens of thousands of dollars.

Wade Starr, administrative assistant to the current chairman, has raised $22,996 in 2004, according to campaign finance disclosure forms. Starr received a $1,000 contribution from current chairman Crandle Bray. Starr has only spent $4,576 so far, leaving him with $18,419 on hand.

Starr had some catching up to do with former Atlanta Police Chief Eldrin Bell, who has been raising funds for several months. Bell raised $48,478 to add to his campaign funds this year and has spent $29,352, leaving him with $32,050 on hand.

Bell received most of his contributions from individual donations, including $200 from Commissioner Gerald Matthews.

Former chairman candidate Terry Bizzell is also planning to run and has raised $643 for his effort. Bizzell has spent $335 of his donations, leaving him with $289 on hand.

Former County Commissioner Richard Reagan has also expressed interest in running for chairman, but has not raised any funds yet.

Libertarian candidate Mark Mosley said he plans to run for chairman but has also not raised any funds.

Two seats on the county board of commissioners are also open this year.

Commissioner Virginia Gray will face at least one opponent, local high school counselor Danny Hayes, who has already started raising money for his campaign.

Hayes has $372 on hand after spending $1,587 of the $1,960 he raised this year.

Gray has not kicked off her campaign yet but has $273 on hand to defend her seat.

Jonesboro businessman Wole Ralph is running for the seat now held by Commissioner Gerald Matthews, who has not yet raised any funds or decided if he will seek reelection. Ralph has raised $13,104 for his effort and has spent $1,837 so far, which leaves him with $11,266 on hand.

Charles H. Davis is also seeking Matthews' seat but has not started raising funds.

The race for county sheriff has been in high gear for months, with two Clayton County detectives seeking to unseat Sheriff Stanley Tuggle.

Tuggle has raised $10,635 to defend his seat in November and has spent $8,563 so far, leaving him with $2,072 on hand.

State Rep. Victor Hill, who is also a county detective, raised $6,199 this year to add to his total of $43,580 in contributions. Hill has spend $40,989 and has $4,789 on hand.

Joe Mack Eckler, another county police officer, has not raised any funds for his campaign. Eckler is relying on a $100,00 loan to himself for his campaign, of which he still has $63,015 on hand.

Sheriff candidate Clifford Hall also donated $500 to his own campaign and has $160 on hand.

All of Clayton County's state representatives are up for reelection this year, and all have begun raising funds to defend their seats except for Hill, who is vacating his seat to run for sheriff.

Local principal George Jeburk has announced his intention to run for Hill's seat but hasn't spent any of the $1,100 he has raised for his bid.

Rep. Mike Barnes, D-Hampton, has raised $1,400 in 2004 to add to his total of $20,067 in contributions. Barnes has spent $2,351 so far, leaving him with $17,716 on hand.

Barnes, who sits on the House Appropriations and Transportation Committees, received $125 from the Georgia Retail Spirits Council and $500 from Georgians for Better Transportation.

Rep. Ron Dodson, D-Lake City, has not collected any new campaign donations in 2004, but he has $5,252 on hand to run for reelection.

Rep. Darryl Jordan, D-Riverdale, has not received any new donations this year, but has $7,910 on hand to defend his seat. Rep. Gail Buckner, D-Jonesboro, has also not received any new campaign donations this year, but has $16,981 on hand.

Sen. Terrell Starr, D-Jonesboro, has raised $3,250 this year, with donations from several businesses and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, leaving him with a total of $123,154 in contributions to date. Of those funds, Starr has spent $1,936, leaving him with $121,217 in his war chest. Starr, who sits on the Senate Natural Resources and Environment and Banking Committees, received $500 from a consumer credit Political Action Committee and $500 from a local oil distributor.

Sen. Valencia Seay, D-College Park, has raised $1,500 this year to add to her total of $83,611 in contributions so far. Seay, who sits on the Senate Transportation Committee, received a $500 donation from the Georgia Highway Contractors Political Action Committee, and like Starr, she also received a $1,000 donation from Taylor. Seay has $75,924 on hand.

Chief Magistrate Judge Michael Baird has raised $5,175 so far this year, mostly from area attorneys, to defend his judgeship. Baird has already spent $23,878 and has $4,584 on hand. Baird's challenger, Daphne Walker, has raised $2,275 this year and hasn't spent any of her funds.

State Court Judge Morris Braswell has loaned his own campaign $2,000 this year, leaving him with $51,222 in total contributions. Of those funds, Braswell has spent $46,441, leaving him with $4,781 on hand.

Incumbent Linda T. Miller and challenger Gregory Lee Shorter, both candidates for Clerk of Superior Court, have not raised any campaign funds yet this year.

State Court Judges Linda Cowen and Harold Benefield have not raised any funds for their reelection efforts this year.

Probate Judge Pamela Ferguson has spent $1,615 on her campaign but has not raised any other funds. Local attorney Bobby Simmons has not yet raised any money for his bid to unseat Ferguson.

Solicitor General Keith Martin has raised $100 in 2004 to retain his seat. His challenger, Leslie Miller Terry, has raised $1,170 for her campaign. Terry has spent $1,154 and has $15 on hand.

Patricia Hussey, the county's tax commissioner, has not raised any new funds in 2004, but has $429 on hand to defend her seat. Hussey's challenger, Terry Baskin, has raised $3,600 for his campaign, and has spent $2,488, leaving him with $1,111 on hand.

Five seats on the Clayton County Board of Education are also open this year.

School board member Bob Livingston is not planning to run for reelection. Eddie White has raised $500 to seek Livingston's seat and has spent $312, leaving him with $188 on hand.

School board member Barbara Wells has also not raised any new funds, but has $300 on hand to defend her seat. Challenger Wendell Johnson has not yet raised any money to run for Wells' seat.

Incumbents Carol Kellam, Nedra Ware and Linda Crummy are also up for reelection but have not yet raised any funds.