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Candidate qualifying is this week
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Georgia’s 2014 political season is moving at a furious pace, and qualifying for local, state and federal seats is next week, more than two months earlier than past election cycles.

All Georgia house and senate seats are up for election, as are all U.S. house seats and a highly sought after U.S. Senate seat, while on the local level two seats on the Newton County Board of Commissioners and three seats on the Board of Education will also be on the ballot.

Local seats

So far, the only candidate to announce he’s not seeking reelection is District 1 school board member Jeff Meadors, and Republican candidate Stan Edwards quickly announced his plans to seek the vacant seat.

No one has put his or her name out publicly about the other four local seats, though there are two Democratic candidates planning a run against longtime incumbent District 4 county Commissioner J.C. Henderson, local Democratic Party Chair Sarah Todd said.

The other seats up for election are the District 2 county commission seat, held by incumbent Democrat Lanier Sims, and the District 3 and District 5 school board seats, held by Democrat Shakila Henderson-Baker and Republican Abigail Morgan Coggin, respectively.

Qualifying for local partisan seats is handled by the respective political parties.

Qualifying for Republicans will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the law office of Charles Strickland, 1138 Conyers St. SE in Covington. For more information, call local Republican Party Chair Delia Fleming at 770-364-4429.

Qualifying for Democrats will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the law office of The Lindsey Firm, 1182 b Washington St. in Covington. For more information, call Todd at 404-408-7268.

The Democratic Party is introducing a new vetting process for all candidates who want to qualify. Candidates have to fill out a questionnaire – detailing their background, ideals, platform and commitment to their local community – and pay $25 for a background check through the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Candidates need to sign an official affidavit declaring their candidacy, which can be found online at the secretary of state’s website or picked up from the local board of elections and local political parties. Candidates also must write checks for qualifying fees. The qualifying fee is 3 percent of the position’s annual salary; the fee for the Board of Commissioners is $484.92, and the fee for the Board of Education is $216.

State and federal seats

Newton County has four state representatives — districts 109, 110, 112, 113 — and two state senators — districts 17 and 43 — which are all up for re-election.

So far, District 112 Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, is the only candidate to announce he will not seek reelection, and three Republican contenders, Newton County residents Aaron Brooks and Ester Fleming, and Morgan County resident Dave Belton, have all publicly announced their intentions to run.

Qualifying fees for both state senator and state representative seats are $400; the base salaries for these part-time positions are $17,342.

Qualifying for Georgia state and federal offices will take place at the Capitol from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.

Republicans will qualify at Capitol Room 216, while Democrats will qualify at Capitol Room 230.

The emphasis early in the year has been the raging political battles for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss, and the U.S. House seat for District 10, being vacated by Paul Broun, who is taking a shot at the senate.

District 10 covers much of the eastern half of Newton County, while District 4, held by incumbent Democrat Hank Johnson, covers much of the western half. Johnson is facing a serious challenge from DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown, while a third candidate Thomas Wright, a Lilburn City Councilman and attorney, has also announced he’s running.

The qualifying fee for both the U.S. Senate and House seats is $5,220; the salaries for both positions are $174,000, according to Georgia Secretary of State’s qualifying guide.

2014 Qualifying Guide Forms