Candidates have qualified in the municipal races for the November 7 election. Some cities went to greater efforts than others to let residents know of the qualifying period. While Georgia law requires a public notice in the paper of record (in Clayton County, that’s the Clayton News), the municipalities generally gave far greater homepage prominence to various festivals and other non-election-related matters than to letting potential candidates know that it was time for them to turn in qualification packets and fees.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, that meant some cities’ incumbents went unchallenged: Lovejoy (which has for all intents and purposes dispensed with electoral politics), Forest Park (where the sole challenger in Ward 5, a city firefighter, dropped out after learning he would have to quit his job to run), and Lake City (see Lovejoy). Riverdale, which does not livestream or videorecord its council meetings, does have a full slate of challengers and incumbents, as does Morrow, where recent controversy over adding Vietnamese and Spanish ballots has galvanized those language communities. And in Jonesboro, it’s Groundhog Day for the most part, with a rematch between Mayor Donya Sartor and Pat Sebo-Hand, amid bitter infighting that has split the city in two. This time around, Arlene Charles is also running for mayor. It’s worth noting that, while the majority of the council has brought ethics charges against Sartor, they have yet to respond (weeks later) to The Clayton Crescent’s written requests for comment on the matter.
Last call for write-in candidates
Write-in candidates MUST qualify before the deadline in order for any vote for them to count in the November 7 election. Many people believe, incorrectly, that they can write in any old name in the blank. That is not true. The write-in candidate blank on your ballot is ONLY for officially-qualified write-in candidates who did not meet the deadline to have their name printed on the ballot.
This also means you have just a few more days to get your paperwork and qualifying fee together if you want to run in one of the municipal elections—particularly any of those which have unchallenged candidates running for re-election. If you are unhappy with your representation, this is your last chance this cycle to try and get elected. Keep in mind: write-in candidates have to work harder because their names will not appear on the November 7 ballot.
If you want to run as a write-in candidate, state law requires you to file and to publish your Notice of Intent “no later than seven days after the close of the municipal qualifying period for municipal elections in the case of a general election. The notice must be filed by a municipal candidate with the [elections] superintendent [which varies by municipality] and published in the official gazette of the municipality [Clayton News] holding the election. O.C.G.A. § 21-2-133(a)(3).” If you want to run as a write-in candidate, seven days after each municipal qualifying period would be:
- Forest Park: by 4:30 p.m. August 31
- Jonesboro: by 4:30 p.m. August 30
- Morrow: by 4:30 p.m. August 30
- Lake City: by 4:30 p.m. August 30
- Lovejoy: by 4:30 p.m. September 1 (although the statute says 7 days, the Secretary of State’s election events calendar lists the deadline as September 1)
- Riverdale: by
Voter change of address deadline is Oct. 10
Don’t forget! October 10 is the last day that you can change your voter registration address before the November 7 election.
What are your current elected officials doing this week? If you don’t know, maybe you’d better go find out. We put the tools in your hand. It’s up to you to use them and to maintain vigilance over those who will tell you anything you want to hear to get elected and to stay in power over the way your neighborhood is zoned, the way your tax dollars are spent, and the way your community is policed. Do your homework. Take nothing at face value. Know who is paying to support any candidate, particularly those who constantly appeal to “the people” and who are quick to throw parties on the taxpayer dime. Ask them how many potholes they’ve filled and how many miles of sidewalk they’ve poured in the past four years. See who else they campaign with and for. What do they do for a living? Do they actually live within the county? Who are their political pals? Do they run from public forums and reporters? Do they listen to citizens’ complaints or dismiss them? Do they spend more time posing for photos than solving problems? Who gives money to their campaign? Have those people or their companies gotten any special treatment from the candidate (contracts) in the past four years? Has the candidate gotten any special gifts—for themselves, for their family, or for their friends/business associates—from others? Are they in legal hot water? Are you and your community just a backdrop for a photo op?
Be smart. Give ’em hell. They work for you, not just for themselves and their circle of friends.
They are not the boss of you.
Vote. And get your neighbors to vote.
About 90 percent of Clayton County voters do not take part in elections. That means Clayton County is ruled by a minority (not a racial minority, an electoral minority). And minority rule is the opposite of democracy.
Clayton County, your destiny is in your own hands.
Monday, Aug. 28
- 5 p.m.: The Clayton County Board of Education holds its work session at the Administration Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro. The business agenda includes an item on international travel and another on this school year’s tribunal panel members. The board will hear updates on Safety and Security Updates from Dr. Reynard Walker, as well as an on Teaching and Learning and Strategic Improvement from Dr. Delphia Young. The safety update comes in the wake of an armed robbery at Hines Ward Field that left a student wheelchair-bound. CCPS Police are now carrying rifles. Watch here:
- The Riverdale City Council holds its business meeting at Riverdale City Hall, 7200 Church Street. On the agenda: the adoption of an 11.48 mil tax rate (Resolution N0. 39-8-2023); appointing Paul Raser to the Clayton County Land Bank (Resolution No. 40-8-2023 ); a $1,609,261 contract for Blackjack Paving to resurface streets on a list that was not published with the agenda but which noted the list was “attached” (Resolution No. 41-8-2023); and an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Forest Park (Resolution 42-8-2023 ) to provide animal control services for Riverdale (Forest Park picks up animals but transports them to Clayton County Animal Control facilities). We’ve left a message with Forest Park Police about when service would be available and whether Riverdale taxpayers would be footing the bill for pickups in their city.
Tuesday, Aug. 29
- As of press time Monday, no special called meetings had been requested for the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, whose next regularly-scheduled meeting is Sepetember 5. You can always check back in at the BOC;s meetings page, which also contains both live and recorded video of meetings. It’s a great place to do research on how your elected commissioners have acted while in office, on the positions they have taken, people they have appointed to various county boards, and on the legislation they have sponsored, voted for or against, or abstained from.
- Morrow City Council does not meet this week, but you can catch up on their meeting agendas, minutes (once approved), ordinances, and resolutions. According to the respective pages, Morrow has not passed any ordinances in 2023 and the only resolution it has passed was a reprimand of Councilwoman Van Tran, signed by Mayor John Lampl, alleging she had acted inappropriately towards city employees and hads not followed decorum during council meetings. Lampl regularly and openly insults Tran from the dais; Tran has repeatedly complained that she is not given sufficient documentation for items (like contracts) up for a vote at council; both are running for mayor this November.
Wednesday, Aug. 30
Thursday, Aug. 31
Friday, Sept. 1
Looking ahead: Clayton County’s new Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will meet from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 7, at Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Headquarters, 7810 Georgia Hwy. 85, Riverdale. According to the notice, “The role of the LEPC is to form a partnership with local governments and industries a resource for enhancing hazardous materials preparedness and community preparedness through activities designed to promote cooperation between facilities, first responders, and community members.” To take part in the meeting or to get on the LEPC distribution list, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If someone you know doesn’t use e-mail but is interested, they can call (770) 473-7833 for more information.
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