Decatur announces qualifying dates, fees for Nov. 3 election

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 24, 2015
File Photo provided by Dena Mellick

File Photo by Dena Mellick

Decatur has firmed up some of the details of the upcoming Nov. 3 city elections.

The following seats will be on the ballot:

– One City Commissioner from Election District 1, Post B

This seat is currently held by Commissioner Scott Drake, who has announced he is running for reelection.  He has no challengers so far.

– One City Commissioner from Election District 2, Post B

This seat was previously held by commissioner and mayor pro tem Kecia Cunningham, who unexpectedly resigned last week to take a job in Pennsylvania. Brian Smith, the current chairman of the city of Decatur’s Zoning Board of Appeals, has announced he is running for Cunningham’s seat on the City Commission. He has no competition yet.

– One City Commissioner District At-Large

Mayor Jim Baskett currently holds this seat, but he isn’t running for reelection. Two candidates are seeking this seat: Planning Commission Chairman Tony Powers and former city commissioner John Ridley.

– One Decatur Board of Education member from Election District 1, Post B

This seat is currently held by School Board Chairman Garrett Goebel, who is running again. There are no other candidates so far.

– One Decatur Board of Education member from Election District 2, Post B

This seat is currently held by Vice Chairwoman Julie Rhame, who is not running. No one has announced their intentions to run for this position.

Voters will pick candidates at the following precincts:

Election District          District :          Polling Place for Election

Clairemont East                1                 : First Baptist Church of Decatur, 308 Clairemont Ave

Clairemont West               1                 : The Church at Decatur Heights, 735 Sycamore Drive

Glenwood Precinct           1&2            : Holy Trinity Parish, 515 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.

Oakhurst                           2                 : Oakhurst Baptist Church, 222 E. Lake Dr.

Ponce De Leon               1&2              : First Christian Church of Decatur, 601 W. Ponce de Leon Ave

Renfroe                             2                : Renfroe Middle School, 220 W. College Ave.

Winnona Park                    2                : Winnona Park Elementary School, 510 Avery St.

Qualifying begins on Aug. 31 at 8:30 a.m. and ends Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m. The city’s qualifying period is shorter than the one allowed by state law, which ends Sept. 4. Decaturish asked City Manager Peggy Merriss why that would be the case, and she said the law allows municipalities some flexibility in setting qualifying dates.

“This gives municipal governments the ability to set a qualifying period of three to five days,” Merriss said. “When we had a five day qualifying period, our experience was that persons interested in qualifying either came the first day or waited until the last couple of hours on the last day with no real activity in between. However, we had to make sure that staff were available to assist, just in case someone showed up. We transitioned to the three day qualifying period several election cycles ago and have had no issues with the shortened time period.”

There will be a fee for candidates who wish to run this year.

“The qualifying fee for City Commission office is $144.00 and the qualifying fee for Board of Education members is $35,” the city says. “Registration for voting in the November 3, 2015 election will cut off on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.”

Absentee polling will start 21 days before the election on Oct. 12. Early voting will be held at 4380 Memorial Drive, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 12 through Oct. 30.

In addition to the candidates running for city posts, there will also be an important question pertaining to school financing on the ballot. Voters will be asked to whether they want to approve borrowing $75 million for school construction, which would require raising taxes by 8 percent.

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