By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
The Morgan County Candidate Qualifying Period for the upcoming local General Primary came to a close on Friday, March 11. A total of 16 candidates have qualified for local elections within Morgan County and one Morgan County citizen, Dave Belton, qualified for the state-level race for the District 112 State Representative. Belton, the incumbent, is currently running unopposed. According to Bobby Howington, elections supervisor for the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration, the county should see a few lively local election races during the May primary, and later during the general election in November. A few key races could change the face of the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) and The Morgan County Board of Education (BOE).
With District 3 County Commissioner Philip Clack forgoing another term, three candidates have qualified for the spot, two republicans and one democrat. Republicans Ben Riden Jr. and Dr. Fred Bell will duke it out in the May primary election to run against Democrat Crystal Benford Thomas in November for the District 3 County Commissioner seat. Philipp Von Hanstein has qualified to run for the County Commissioner District 4 Seat, currently held by Ellen Warren. Warren, an independent, has not announced whether or not she intends to run for another term. Ron Milton, incumbent county commissioner for District 5 is running for reelection unopposed as a republican. Erica Veasley, the current District 1 Board of Education representative is seeking reelection, running as a Democrat, but will face off against Cheryl Bland, who is also seeking the seat as a Democrat. Keith Howard, the current District 3 Board of Education representative is seeking another term and is running unopposed as a Republican. Gaby Bryan, republican, and Jody Moss, republican, will square off in the May primaries to run for Clerk of Superior Court. Candidates running unopposed include, Connie Holt, who is running for Chief Magistrate Judge, which a non-partisan position; Charles Merritt for Judge of Probate Court, which is a non-partisan position; Adam Carter, who is running as a Republican for County Coroner; and Becky Astin, who is running as a republican for County Tax Commissioner.
A new County Sheriff could also emerge, as Kenneth Stewart, a democrat, has qualified to run against current County Sheriff Robert Markley, a republican, for the job. According to the BOER, candidates qualify for primary elections either through their party affiliation or through the Elections Office as independent candidates. Candidates are required to file the proper ethics filing forms with the state. After qualification, candidates’ names are placed on a database, and the ballot building process begins. Once the database is formed it is sent back to our office for final inspection. Then a copy of this database is sent out to the printer for the printing of the mail-out absentee ballots. Howington urged local voters to stay involved in these local level races, especially during the May 24 Primary Elections, which will be held for candidates of the same political party qualifying for the same position. “If you only vote in the November General Election, then it’s sort of like, you are just voting for the leftovers,” said Howington. “These local races are important as local governance has more of a daily impact on a voter’s life than national.” “As always, we would love to see a really good turnout of voters for all of these elections,” said Howington.