By Joel Hall
Starting Monday, county residents will have the chance to put their hats into the political ring, for a shot at elected positions that will allow them to help determine the future of Clayton County.
Partisan qualifying for the 2010 election will take place from Monday, April 26, to Thursday, April 29, from 9 a.m., to 5 p.m., and on Friday, April 30, from 9 a.m., to noon.
The locations of qualifying will vary, based on party affiliation and the seat for which a person wishes to qualify.
County commission, school board and legislative seats up for election this year are: District 1 and District 4 Commissioner; School Board Districts 1, 4, 8 and 9; State Senate Districts 34 and 44; State Representative Districts 60, 62, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78.
According to Clayton County Board of Elections officials, Republican candidates for school board and county commission seats will qualify at 154 North McDonough St., in Jonesboro. Democratic candidates for school board and county commission seats will qualify inside the ceremonial courtroom of the Historical Clayton County Courthouse, located at 121 South McDonough St., in Jonesboro.
All candidates for State Senate and State House seats will qualify at the Georgia Capitol next week, according to state Democratic and Republican officials.
Georgia Democratic Party Communications Director Eric Gray said Democratic candidates for the Senate and House will qualify on the House floor. However, the location within the Capitol may change, depending on the schedule of the 2010 legislative session.
Georgia GOP Communications Director Whitney Gibbs said Republican candidates will qualify in Room 216 of the Capitol from Monday to Thursday and on the House floor on Friday.
Qualifying fees are $673.52 for county commission seats; $360 for school board seats, and $400 for state Senate or House seats.
Locally, according to Clayton County Elections and Registration Official Lucille Pettaway, five individuals have filed declarations of intent to receive campaign funds as of Thursday afternoon. Those individuals are: Joyce Elaine Baul, of Rex, running for District 1 Commissioner; Larry W. Bussey, of Jonesboro, running for District 4 Commissioner; Shegale Crute, of Morrow, running for District 1 Commissioner; Richard F. Jones, Jr., of Jonesboro, running for School Board District 1; and Clarence Richard Reagan, of Rex, running for District 1 Commissioner.
Clayton County GOP Chairman Della Ashley said that, so far, few Republican candidates have expressed interest in running for the school board or the commission. She said she welcomes "anybody who wants to run."
"We've haven't had a whole lot of interest as far as the school board and the county commission seats," Ashley said. "Sometimes, you don't really know who is going to run until the week of [qualifying]. I personally hope there will be people who come forward with the school board because of the controversy we have had in the past. In general, I would prefer school board members who are concerned about fiscal responsibility and conservative ideas in general."
Kevin Thomas, chairman of the county's Democratic party, is optimistic about his party's chances in Clayton and around the state. He said that in the weeks leading up to qualifying, there has been a large interest in the District 1 Commissioner seat.
"I see a lot of interest in the District 1 [race]," Thomas said. "I am getting a lot of calls about that race. We don't know what that means, however, until the 26th to the 30th when they qualify.
"I think this is going to be an excellent year for Democrats all over the state, as well as [in] Clayton County," he added. "We have the opportunity to turn the state blue."
Superior Court judges Geronda V. Carter and Albert B. Collier, as well as State Court Judge John C. Carbo, III, are also up for election this year.
According to Pettaway, qualifying for those races will begin on June 28 at the Georgia Secretary of State's office, in Atlanta, for Superior Court candidates, and at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, for State Court candidates.
Qualifying fees will be $3,607.56 for Superior Court candidates, and $4,198.63 for State Court candidates, according to election officials.
For more information, visit www.co.clayton.ga.us.