by Robin Kemp

If you want to make a change in local government on May 24 and you live in the district where you want to run for office, you will need to file your candidacy next week.

Up for grabs are Board of Commission District 1, currently held by Dr. Alieka Anderson, and District 4, currently held by DeMont Davis.

On the School Board, seats you can run for are in District 1 (Jasmine Bowles), District 4 (Victoria Williams), District 8 (Joy Tellis Cooper), and District 9 (Benjamin Straker).

Cooper was elected to fill the unfinished BOE term of Anderson, who was elected to fill the unfinished BOC term of the late Sonna Singleton Gregory.

In addition, three nonpartisan State Court judgeships will be on the May 24 ballot. Those are for the seats held by Judge Michael T. Garrett, Judge Tammi Hayward, and Judge Margaret Spencer.

Qualifying begins at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 7 and ends at 12 noon on Friday, March 11.

How to qualify to run for office

Potential candidates for the BOC and BOE races have to file a Declaration of Candidacy, as well as an affidavit, with either the Clayton County Democratic Party or the Clayton County Republican Party.

Potential candidates for State Court Judge must file their Notice of Candidacy and pay their qualifying fees at the Clayton County Elections and Registration Office, 121 S. McDonough St., 2nd floor, Jonesboro. Call (770) 477-3372 or e-mail elections@claytoncounty.gov with questions.

How to challenge someone’s candidacy

Any eligible voter can challenge any candidate’s qualifications within two weeks after the deadline to qualify. To do so, they would have to file a written complaint with the elections superintendent, listing the reason(s) why they believe the candidate is not qualified to run for or hold that office. For example, if a candidate qualifies for election in a district where they do not actually live, that would be grounds for filing a complaint.

The elections superintendent can challenge any candidate’s qualifications at any time before the election.

Either the candidate or the person challenging their candidacy has the right to file a petition in Superior Court within 10 days after the election superintendent’s final decision, with a final judgement possible from the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court.

See Georgia O.C.G.A. 21-2-6 for details.

Qualifying and related fees

Under Georgia law, the Board of Commissioners sets candidacy fees. For Board of Commissioners seats, the fee is $1,068. For the Board of Education, the fee is $360.

Other qualifying fees for 2022 include three State Court Judge seats: Garrett ($5,095.53), Hayward ($4998.25), and Spencer ($4.880.98).

If the check bounces, the candidate is automatically disqualified, unless the financial institution’s officer or director swears in writing that there was an error on the bank’s part.

Candidates also may file a pauper’s affidavit along with their qualifying petition if they cannot afford the qualifying fee.

Candidates for the BOE and BOC also must file a Nominating Petition with the Elections and Registration office between 9 a.m. on June 27 and 12 noon on July 12. Those petitions can start as early as January 13. At least five percent of eligible voters in the last election for that office must sign the petition. According to the Elections and Registration, here are the estimates of how many people must sign the petition in each race other than the judgeships:

Board of Commissioners District 1
2,039 for candidates
408 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 40,771 eligible voters last election

Board of Commissioners District 4
2,215 for candidates
443 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 44,306 eligible voters last election

Board of Education District 1
1,070 for candidates
214 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 21,395 eligible voters last election

Board of Education District 4
890 for candidates
178 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 17,792 eligible voters last election

Board of Education District 8
922 for candidates
184 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 18,431 eligible voters last election

Board of Education District 9
910 for candidates
182 for pauper’s affidavit
out of 18,195 eligible voters last election

In the judgeships, candidates do not need to collect 5% of eligible voters on a petition. However, a petition is required for a pauper’s affidavit, which collects 1% of signatures of eligible voters from the previous election:

State Court Judge (Garrett)
Pauper’s affidavit 1,588
out of 158,764 eligible voters last election

State Court Judge (Hayward)
Pauper’s affidavit 1,588
out of 158,764 eligible voters last election

State Court Judge (Spencer)
Pauper’s affidavit 1,588
out of 158,764 eligible voters last election

Write-in Candidates

Potential write-in candidates have to follow a different process. Note that it is possible to be a write-in candidate yet not have your name printed on the runoff ballot, as in the last sheriff’s race (Victor Hill’s name was on the runoff ballot, but Dwayne Fabian’s was not; many people incorrectly believed that Hill ran unopposed).

The first step is to file a Notice of Intention of Write-in Candidacy form, an affidavit of publication, and a copy of the notice as it was published in the Clayton News, which is the county organ for Clayton County.

The affidavit of publication includes a statement confirming that the notice has been published, the date it was published, and the name of the newspaper where it was published. The affidavit can be made by the candidate, the newspaper publisher, or the publisher’s designated employee–usually the person who handles the notice placement. Check with the newspaper for publication costs.

These have to be filed by March 18 for partisan races.

More information

For full details, see the 2022 Qualifying Information on the Elections and Registration website.

To see who’s giving money to various county-level candidates (past and present) who already have filed Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports and how they report their campaign spending, visit https://claytoncountyga.easyvotecampaignfinance.com/home/publicfilings.

If you are a candidate for office, we would appreciate hearing from you or your campaign contact via e-mail at editor@claytoncrescent.org. We will send out a nonpartisan Candidate Survey to all qualified candidates who are not running for a judgeship.

Please keep in mind: As a nonprofit news organization, The Clayton Crescent does not endorse candidates.

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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