While voters in the unincorporated portions of Upson County and the City of Yatesville will be casting votes only for or against a continuation of the 1-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), voters in Thomaston will also be busy deciding who will be their new mayor and council members. Voters in Yatesville will not have a city election, as the candidates running for mayor and council are unopposed.
Hays Arnold, who has been mayor in Thomaston for the last 12 years, announced last year that he would not be running for re-election for a fourth term. He made his announcement well in advance in order to give anyone wanting to run a chance to attend city council meetings and see and understand all the duties of mayor.
Qualifying this week to run for mayor were former District 3 council member J. D. Stallings and Pastor Coleman Dumas III.
Stallings was elected to the District 3 post in a special election in March 2014. Per the Georgia constitution, Stallings had to resign as the District 3 council member in order to run for mayor, and he did so just prior to qualifying for mayor.
Dumas is pastor of Stonewell Worship Center in Thomaston.
Other posts up for election in Thomaston are the council positions for District 1 and District 2.
For District 1, incumbent Gary Atwater, Jr. and former council member LaKeitha Reeves qualified.
For District 2, incumbent Patsy Perdue, Upson County 9-1-1 Director Carl McKinney, and Jeff Middlebrooks, the Athletic Superintendent for the Upson County Recreation Department, all qualified.
It appears the mayoral tradition will continue in Yatesville. Cecil Moncrief, who has been mayor of Yatesville for more than 13 years, said he has never received a vote for mayor, since no one ever ran against him while he has been in office. Moncrief is stepping down, and Jim Maddox is the only candidate to qualify for mayor, which means no election is necessary, and Maddox will take office without anyone voting for him.
The same will be true for the two council positions up for election. The positions held by incumbents Shane Moore and Phyl Gatlin are up for election. While Moore qualified to run again, Gatlin will not be running, and her seat will be filled by Chris Mullin, who was the only other person to qualify for the at-large council positions.
The General Election will be on Tuesday, November 3, and the City of Thomaston will also hold a special election to fill the remaining term of the District 3 post vacated by J. D. Stallings when he decided to run for mayor. The only question is will the special election be on the general ballot, or on a separate ballot. City Attorney Joel Bentley advised the Thomaston City Council of the situation at their September 1 meeting.
“Our charter requires us to hold an election within 60 days,” Bentley said. “However, our charter is trumped by the Georgia Election Code, and it requires that we hold the election on specific days, and the next specific day would be the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which is the same day as the General Election.
“Mr. Chastain (City Clerk Clint Chastain) and I have been on the phone with the Election Superintendent. Historically, we publish the notice of the election two times. We cannot, based on the period of time that the Secretary of State has to get the information together, hold the special election as a part of the General Election and meet that time deadline. We’re going to call the Secretary of State and see if they will give us a little dispensation, but it may well be that our special election is held the same day as the General Election, but if this occurs, you may vote in one spot for the General Election, and then vote for the District 3 councilmember in a different spot in the same location at the Civic Center. Early voting may also be at different locations. “
Bentley did request the council approve a resolution calling for the special election to be held to elect a council member for District 3 for the City of Thomaston. Council member Patsy Perdue made a motion to approve the resolution. Council member Gary Atwater seconded the motion and it was approved 4-0.
Qualifying for the District 3 post will be Thursday and Friday, September 17 -18, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. each day, and Monday, Sept. 21, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Qualifying fee is $72.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.