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Prepare for July 31 primary

As campaigns for local offices reach full steam in June and July this year, citizens can prepare to cast their votes one of three ways ‘“ in early voting which starts July 10, by absentee ballot which can be ordered now, or on Election Day which is set for July 31 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This year, early voting has been reduced from a 45 day period to 16 business days and Saturday, July 21. ’I’m concerned people aren’t aware of all the issues and don’t realize it’s really a big election,’ said registrar Sandi Chamblin. ‘Residents must complete name change, change of address forms and first-time registration forms by July 2 to vote in the July 31 election.” Absentee ballots will be mailed June 15. To receive one, residents must fill out an application, select a political party and send it back to the Pike County Registrar’s Office. If residents are elderly or disabled and have not received an absentee application, call 770-567-2003 to request one. Thirteen Republican and no Democratic candidates qualified for the July 31 general primary. Some may be eliminated from the race and some could see action in the runoff election set for Tuesday, Aug. 21. ’There are no Democratic candidates this year. To prevent a runoff, candidates would have to get 50% plus one vote to win,’ said Chamblin. Several Pike positions have multiple candidates, including nonpartisan races for three board of education seats and three candidates vying for the magistrate judge position. Here is a rundown on contested races on the primary ballot which will also feature the controversial T-SPLOST referendum: Magistrate Judge: Incumbent magistrate judge Marcia Callaway-Ingram of Molena will be challenged by current associate magistrate judge Loretta Rakestraw of Meansville and Wayne Woods of Zebulon. County commission chairman: Incumbent chairman Doug Mangham of Zebulon will be challenged by Briar Johnson of Williamson. County commission District 4: Incumbent Don Collins of Williamson will be challenged by James Jenkins of north Pike County. Sheriff: Incumbent Jimmy Thomas of Concord will be challenged by Gary Hammock of Zebulon. Board of education District 3: Former member Roger Green will not run. Two new candidates have stepped up, Brian Fancher of Zebulon and Emily Green O’Steen of Meansville. Board of education District 4: Three candidates qualified for the seat formerly held by John Wynn including Robert Adams, Connie Green and James ‘Jim’ Brooks, all of Molena. Board of education District 5: Two candidates qualified, incumbent April Byrd of Meansville and Parrish Swift of the Lifsey Springs area. Uncontested: Several incumbents qualified and are running uncontested, including Superior Court Clerk Carolyn Williams of Concord, Tax Commissioner Donna Wynn of Meansville, Coroner Terrell Moody, District 3 commissioner Tommy Powers of Meansville and non-partisan incumbent Probate Judge Lynn Brandenburg of Concord. Georgia House District 131: Though redistricted and renumbered, this is the seat held by incumbent Billy Maddox who is not seeking reelection. Qualifiers in this race are former Griffin circuit superior court judge Johnnie L. Caldwell Jr. and former Lamar school board member Ryan Christopher, both Republicans. U.S. House, District 3: Incumbent Republican Lynn Westmoreland will battle it out with former Lamar commission chairman and area realtor Kent Kingsley and Jonesboro small businessman Chip Flanegan.

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