District 5 race heats up
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
No fewer than four county residents qualified to run for the District Five County Commission seat of the late Chester Thomas.
Thomas Hardwick Bell, Betty Straw Brown, Sammy H. Cathey and Joyce S. Thomas, the widow of former District Five Commissioner Chester Thomas, all paid the $144 qualifying fee prior to noon last Friday and registered to run for elected office.
Commission candidates must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of the county for at least 12 months and a qualified voter to vie for the seat.
The election will be held February 5, 2008, in conjunction with the state’s Presidential Preference Primary.
“This [county commissioner] election is what we call ‘special and apart,’ because it is filling an unexpired term,” said Bobby Howington, the county’s new elections supervisor. Thomas’ term would have run through 2008; had there been fewer than six months remaining in his term at the time of his death, a Morgan County Superior Court judge could have appointed a resident to serve out the remainder of the four-year term.
Since Thomas had more than six months remaining to serve, a special election will fill the empty seat instead.
District Five encompasses parts of the Buckhead, Bethany and Springfield areas of Morgan County, in roughly the southeastern quadrant of the county.
Thomas died of an apparent heart attack at the end of October.
For more on Bell and Thomas, see our in–depth stories on Pages 2A and 3A.