Qualifying week for city councils in Newton County officially ended Friday afternoon and only a handful of seats are being contested, including one in Covington, Porterdale and Oxford and two seats in Newborn, including a three-way race for mayor.
One of the most interesting races will be the rematch of the 2005 Covington Council Post 2 West race between incumbent Hawnethia Williams and former 14-year council member Charles Wilborn. Williams beat Wilborn in the 2005 election, ending a run that started in 1991.
Williams said she believes she’s the best candidate, and is running again because she wants to continue the projects she’s started, including stabilizing energy prices, increasing the use of public access channels, working on the Urban Redevelopment Plan to improve housing and provide affordable senior housing and improving the general quality of life for residents of her district.
“I’ve done more in four years than my opponents did in the 14 years he was in his office. My work speaks for me. I want to see those things I’ve worked on come to reality and continue to add on and be involved in the process,” Williams said. “The fact is there are good people in the district and they deserve the best candidate. I’m going to be concerned about all the people in the district and not just a certain level of people … I said I would work hard for Covington, and I have worked hard and will continue to work hard. As I said before my work speaks for itself.”
When Wilborn announced he was running in April, he said he was concerned about the state of the Covington square and his main priority would be the expansion and revitalization of downtown.
"Downtown Covington is a good place. It’s one of the fastest growing cities, yet we have stores closing, failing," he said. "People can’t buy bread (at the square). Men want to buy suits, but they have no place to go. We don’t need people to go to Conyers and we don’t need the Covington square to die. I’ve worked on the square for 43 years, and I remember what it once was. It can be that way again."
Wilborn works four jobs, including two on the square, and is a part of five local organizations, including being a board member with the Water and Sewage Authority and the vice chairman of Covington Habitat for Humanity. He said he wants to work with the The Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Covington to bring more stores to the area, including a grocery store, and more industrial jobs to the Covington.
Newton Electric Supply Co-Owner Chris Smith will take over the Post 1 East seat held by John Howard, who is retiring after 16 years on the council. Smith is unopposed and said he is excited about the opportunity ahead.
Post 3 West Councilwoman Ocie Franklin is also unopposed and is looking forward to four more years on the council.
“I’ve enjoyed the last four years on the city council, but it’s not as easy as people think it is. I’m running again because there are some objectives that I need to finish and things I want to see done in the city,” Franklin said.
She said she will continue to focus on getting abandoned houses either torn down or fixed up, getting troubled young people back on track and working towards an overall safer and cleaner community.
In Porterdale, Post 3 Councilwoman Arline Chapman and Post 4 Councilman Mike Harper will run unopposed and be on the council for another term. However, Post 5 Councilman Lowell Chambers will be opposed by Andy Grimes, who has run about four times in the past, a Porterdale city official said.
In Oxford, the open Council Post 4 is being sought by Sue Dale and Tillie Mitchell. Dale is a human resource manager for Oxford College, a grant writer for the city and runs Dale's Tails, an in-home pet sitting business. Mitchell is a long-time resident who has lived in the Covington and Oxford areas for around 50 years, an Oxford city official said. Current Post 4 Councilwoman Emma Lou Patterson decided not to seek reelection this year.
Oxford Post 5 Councilman James Windham and Post 6 Councilman Terry Smith will be unopposed.
The race for Newborn’s mayor will be the most crowded as incumbent J.W. Cummings will be opposed by current Post 2 Councilman James King and Roger Sheridan. The mayoral post will be a four-year term.
All the other four council seats are open as well, because the city will go to a staggered-seat system for the first time in its history. However, the only competition will be for Post 4, between current Post 1 Councilwoman Wanda Cummings and Martha Ellwanger. Post 4 will be a four-year term.
For Post 1, Gene Downs will take over for Wanda Cummings, and will serve a two-year term. For Post 2, John Donaldson will take over for King and will serve a two-year term. And for Post 3, Thomas Kreiger will take over for Suzanne Bean and will serve a four-year term.
Newborn Town Clerk Lisa Rowe said she didn’t know why the city had so much turnover this year.
In Mansfield, the three incumbents up for election will run unopposed. Post 3 is held by Lyra Cocchi, Post 4 is held by Larry Haigwood and Post 5 is held by Larry Cummins.
Finally, in Social Circle, District 1 incumbent Traysa Price will run unopposed, and current District 3 Councilman David Keener, who took over the position from his father-in-law who passed away, is also running unopposed. On the Social Circle School Board, three candidates are running unopposed. Tim Lemonds is running for chairman, he is currently vice-chairman. Incumbent Anthony Hooks is running for the District 2 seat, and incumbent Dan Chisholm is running for the District 4 seat.
Newton County’s School Board and County Commission elections will take place in 2010. Unless, otherwise stated all seats are four-year terms. The election for the contested races will take place on Nov. 3.