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Posted: August 6, 2013 8:51 p.m.

Newborn talks elections, Schoolhouse

Newborn wants to make some changes to its calendar to line up better with county and state government, including holding its elections in even years and moving to a July-June fiscal year.

The town wants to move its council elections to even years in the hope it could pay the county to handle Newborn’s election duties, but Mayor Roger Sheridan said Tuesday the county’s Board of Elections remains hesitant to take over the duties because of concerns over cost and manpower.

Sheridan said the town still hopes the county will change its mind, and Newborn is moving forward with its plans. The council previously voted in June to request the state legislature amend the town’s charter to move council elections to even years; the move will also require approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Sheridan said he believes the town should be treated the same way as the city of Covington, which currently pays the Newton County Board of Elections to handle Covington’s council elections. The county has budgeted to receive $12,500 from the city to handle elections this year, though the actual expense could change.

Newborn Town Clerk Lisa Rowe said Newborn has trouble hiring enough staff to facilitate early voting — she said three people are required to be in the office for the 21 days of early voting — and finding an elections supervisor to keep up with current laws. A person is taking online training to become the town’s supervisor, but Rowe said one person already resigned from the position because of the amount of work involved. The city might not have any contested seats this year, which means an election would not be required.

The three seats up for election are the mayor’s seat, and the council seats held by Tom Krieger, Post 3, and Martha Ellwanger, Post 4.  Qualifying fees are $25 for council members and $30 for the mayor, and qualifying to run for office will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Aug. 26-30 at Newborn Town Hall, 4224 Ga. Highway 142. If the town’s elections are moved to even years – which will be voted on by the legislature in 2014 – the three officials elected this year would only serve three-year terms and be up for election in November 2016. In addition, the town is expected to discuss at its next meeting changing its fiscal year from a January-December year to a July-June year, which is used by the state, county and several cities, including Covington. Rowe said the change is mainly to get the city on the same schedule as the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve coordination.

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