CELINA SHOLAR was the last Republican candidate to qualify Friday morning. She is challenging incumbent Grady County Commissioner Keith Moye.
As a week of political qualifying wrapped up Friday, several candidates drew opposition and three surprise candidates threw their hats into the ring in the final hours.
Booker Gainor qualified as a Democrat for the Georgia House of Representatives district 173 seat, which is currently held by Rep. Darlene Taylor, a Thomas County Republican. No other candidates qualified, so Gainor and Taylor will face off in November’s general election.
Gainor was in the third year of his term as mayor of Cairo until he qualified to run for the state office. Since the terms of both offices would overlap by more than 30 days, the Georgia Constitution states that he must vacate his current seat.
Before qualifying, Gainor had sought legal advice from Tom Lehman, attorney for the Cairo City Council, who says he was unaware of the constitutional language that governed an elected official seeking another elected office. That language is found in Article II, Section II, Paragraph V of the Georgia Constitution. Lehman said he reviewed the city Charter, Article III of the state constitution and Title 36 of Georgia Law and “found no conflict with the Mayor offering as a candidate.” Lehman has since apologized for giving the “erroneous information.”
Two other unexpected candidates stepped forward to run for Grady County commission seats.
Thursday morning, Ralph Harris, a local pastor and resident of Borden Road, qualified to run as a Democrat for the district 1 county commission seat currently held by June Knight, who qualified as a Republican. Richard Jordan also qualified as a Republican, and voters will determine who the Republican nominee will be during the primary election in May. That winner will face Harris in the general election in the Fall.
The third unexpected candidate was Reno area resident Celina Sholar who qualified Friday as a Republican to challenge incumbent Grady County Commissioner Keith Moye, also a republican candidate, for the district 3 seat. No one qualified for the post as a Democrat.
The race for sheriff of Grady County has a crowded field of five candidates, four who are republicans. Incumbent Sheriff Harry Young, and challengers Steve Clark, Duke Donaldson and Jared Evans all qualified as republicans. The lone democrat running for the office is Dickie Thomas.
Incumbent tax commissioner Barbara Darus will run against political newcomer Bobby Newmons, both as Republicans for the tax commissioner post. With no Democrat in the race the primary is tantamount to election.
Rusty Powe, incumbent Grady County coroner, is running as a Republican and will face LaTasha Copeland, who is running for coroner as a Democrat, in November.
Only two candidates qualified for District 4 county commissioner. Incumbent LaFaye Copeland, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican candidate Charles Renaud.
Congressman Sanford Bishop has drawn two Republican challengers. Vivian Childs, a business woman from Warner Robins, and Don Cole, a writer and minister from Cordele, will face each other in the Republican primary election to determine which will face Bishop at the polls in November.
Candidates without any opposition include Grady County Chief Magistrate Pat Pollock, Grady County Clerk of Court Debbie Kines, Grady County Probate Judge Denise Maddox, and Grady County Board of Education members Jeff Worsham, Gerald Goosby and Teresa Gee Hardy. Also, Superior Court Judges J. Kevin Chason and Heather Hendricks Lanier are running unopposed, as is Sen. Dean Burke and District Attorney Joe Mulholland.
The primary elections are scheduled for May 19 to determine the party nominees with the winners facing each other in the general election, which will take place on Nov. 3.
Separately, early voting for the presidential preference primary is taking place now at the Grady County Courthouse. All county polls will open for balloting in the presidential preference primary on March 24.