The same day they vote on whether or not to extend Catoosa County's special purpose local option sales tax, residents of Fort Oglethorpe will select someone to represent Ward 5 on the City Council.
Last week, during the Council's final meeting of 2012, Mayor Lynn Long called for a moment of silence and Councilman Louis Hamm noted the empty council seat that Eddie Stinnett had occupied during his time on the board.
Stinnett died of an apparent heart attack the morning of Nov. 28, the day after he had joined three council members in unanimously voting to remove Charles Sharrock from the Council. Sharrock's ouster had followed a hearing related to charges of sexual harassment levied against him by a Fort Oglethorpe Police Department female detective.
Because the five-member Council now has two vacancies, no resolution or ordinance can be adopted unless it is unanimously agreed on by the remaining members.
Sharrock is contesting his dismissal in Superior Court and his city council seat will remain unfilled until a judge rules on his appeal.
Councilmen Stinnett, Hamm and Earl Gray were elected in 2009 and all had expressed their intention to seek re-election during the November 2013 municipal election.
Since Stinnett's seat will be vacant for more than six consecutive months, a special election must be held and someone be elected to serve out the remainder of his term. The seat will then be contested during the November election, meaning the person elected to serve in the interim will be on the Council for less than one year.
Orma Luckey, election superintendent for the city, said that since Fort Oglethorpe's council members are elected "at large," any registered voter living within the city, not just in Ward 5, is eligible to vote in the special election.
This special election will be held March 19, 2013, the same day voters countywide will go to the polls to determine whether or not to extend the one-cent SPLOST.
Candidates wanting their names on the March ballot can file qualifying paperwork and pay a registration fee of $255 - 3 percent of a councilman's annual salary of $8,500 - Monday, Jan. 28-Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013.
While the election will take place the same day as voting on SPLOST, most Fort Oglethorpe residents must vote at two different locations.
All voting for the Ward 5 special election - early, advance or on the actual March 19 election day - will be conducted at Fort Oglethorpe City Hall.
Those choosing to advance or early vote on the SPLOST referendum can go to either the West Side Precinct in Lakeview, or Catoosa Hall in Ringgold. Anyone voting on the referendum on March 19 will cast ballots at their regular polling place.
Luckey said the last day a person can register and be eligible to vote in the March election is Feb. 19, 2013.