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No one runs for soil and water position
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The election is over, but one local seat remains unfilled after no one qualified to run for the office.

No Newton County resident qualified for a vacant elected seat to the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, which seeks to protect both the quality of Georgia's soils and water resources.

The state is comprised of 40 different soil and water conservation districts and each district conducts its own projects to protect or improve the water and soil in their area. The commission often aids local governments or private landowners in protecting their area's land and water.

Newton and Jasper counties together form the Upper Ocmulgee district and each county has three
representatives, two elected and one appointed.

Newton County had a vacant elected seat this year, but no one qualified to run for office, according to the Newton County Board of Elections. Newton County voters cast 1,936 write-in ballots for the race, but they were for naught as no one followed the official write-in candidate process.

Cynthia Wilbur, the elections supervisor for the soil and water commission, said the district can either leave the seat vacant or temporarily fill that position until 2014, when another election will be held.

The elected positions are for four-years terms. The positions are not paid, but members are given per diem payments when working on commission business, Wilbur said.

Newton County currently has two active representatives, including Philip Standard, who was appointed, and David Hays, who was elected. Hays will again be up for election in 2014 along with the vacant seat. Hays also sits on the overall five-member state commission representing his district; he was appointed to the position by the governor.

Newton County is in District 4, which has a headquarters in Milledgeville. Land owners who want to participate in conservation practices can call District 4 representative Keenan Malone at (478) 445-5766.

Among the main functions of the soil and water commission are:
• reducing, capturing and reusing water for agricultural users
• protecting waters quality in bodies of water, both natural and manmade (reservoirs)
• reduce soil erosion, which not only damages the health of soil, but also can damage bodies of water by polluting or clogging them with sediment

For more information about the soil and water commission, visit or call the headquarters in Athens at (706) 552-4470.