Primary ballots for Walker County residents will look different this May as the county government transitions from a sole commissioner to a five-person board, a move citizens voted on in November 2018.
Residents will now be asked to vote for their own district representative and an at-large chair.
The sole-commissioner government, where one single elected official makes every decision, is only legal in the state of Georgia and is active in seven of the state's 159 counties: Bartow, Bleckley, Chattooga, Murray, Pulaski, Towns and Union.
Catoosa County residents are also scheduled to take to the polls for the May 19 primary, with early voting beginning April 27. On the ballot will be:
County Commissioner District 1
Jeff Long, Gloria Hunt, Benjamin Scott
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners
Robert Gordy, Steven Henry, Ray Johnson, Ernest Pursley
County Commissioner District 3
Jim Cutler, Mickey Headrick, Vanita Hullander
The new board will have four commissioners representing specific districts, plus the at-large chair. The districts were determined based on population size and essentially boil down to Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Lookout Mountain and each city's surrounding area.
To begin, representatives for districts 1 and 2 (Rossville and Chickamauga) will serve two-year terms, while those representing the other districts as well as the at-large chair will serve four-year terms. After 2022, all seats will be four-year terms, meaning every two years, two positions will be up for election.
The four district commissioners will each make $12,000 a year. The full-time chair will make $100,000 or $500 more than the next-highest-paid county employee, whichever is more. Currently, the highest-paid employee is Sheriff Steve Wilson (who is running for sheriff unopposed), who makes roughly $118,000 as of 2018.
Other races in Catoosa
Catoosa Board of Education
District 1: Gloria Hunt
District 3: Donald Dycus
At-large: Suzan Gibson
Probate Judge: Jeffrey Hullender
Coroner: Crystal King, James Spurling
Clerk of Superior Court: Tracy Hullender Brown
Tax Commissioner: Gary Wayne Autry, Michael Key
Chief Magistrate of the Magistrate Court: John Gass
On March 20, sitting Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, who is running for the at-large chair position, temporarily suspended his campaign.
"As a community, we are working through an unprecedented challenge. This challenge demands my singular focus and commitment," he wrote in a news release.
The General Primary Election in Walker County is still scheduled to be held May 19, and current coronavirus precautions have moved the state's Presidential Primary from March to May 19.
The last day to register to vote is April 20 and early voting is scheduled to begin April 27. Voting by mail is encouraged.
Also on the local ballot will be a referendum on whether to continue the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to fund county projects like purchasing emergency equipment; improvements on county-owned buildings; water and sewer projects; and infrastructure and park improvements. The current SPLOST expires at the end of September.
COUNTY COMMISSION CANDIDATES
District 1 (Rossville and Fort Oglethorpe)
Robert Blakemore, John McDonald, James Hill
District 2 (Chickamauga)
William Askew III, Tyrone Davis, Marcus Veazey
District 3 (LaFayette and Rock Spring)
Hakie Lyndel Shropshire, Brian Hart
District 4 (Lookout Mountain)
Daryl Massey, Mike Nowlin, Alan Painter, Alan Slaven, Robert Stultz
Matt Harris, Perry Lamb, Shannon Whitfield
Contact Sabrina Bodon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other races in Walker:
County Board of Education:
Post 1: Karen Lee Stoker
Post 4: Lindsay Luann, Dale Wilson
Post 5: Phyllis Hunter
Probate Court Judge: Christy Anderson
Clerk of Superior Court: Carter Brown
Coroner: William Sims, Dewayne Wilson
Surveyor: Charles Wardlaw
Tax Commissioner: Carolyn Walker
Magistrate Court Judge: Shelia Thompson
State Court Solicitor: Matthew Williamson
State Court Judge: Billy Mullinax