Area residents who may be considering running for elected office this year don't have much more time to make up their minds.
Qualifying for the 2010 elections is this week, and seven seats at the local level – three on the Bryan County Board of Commissioners and four on the Bryan County Board of Education – are up for grabs.
Qualifying will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Friday. Republican candidates must qualify with their local party chairman, Larry Barker at Barker and Associates on 31 Constitution Way off Ford Avenue. Democrats must qualify with the Bryan County Probate Court at the county courthouse in Pembroke.
Anyone wishing to qualify for the 2010 elections independent of either political party will have the chance to do so between June 28 and July 2 at the county courthouse.
On the county board of commissioners, seats for districts 2, 4, and 5 are available, and two commissioners have announced they will not be seeking re-election.
Commissioner Toby Roberts, who serves District 4 in South Bryan, is currently serving his fifth consecutive four-year term but said he will not be seeking a sixth.
“I think it’s time to pass the wand to someone else,” Roberts said.
“(Serving) certainly has had its up and down moments, and I certainly have enjoyed serving on the board. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with three different chairmen, who were all very dedicated to county government.”
Likewise, he said he’s enjoyed working with all the various commissioners over the years, but “the main thing is working with the people in the county.”
“We certainly didn’t please everybody, but we did the best we could,” he said.
Roberts joked that he had no gray hair before he took office. He cited expanding Hwy. 144 to four lanes farther into the county and gaining an I-95 interchange at Belfast Siding Road as projects he’d hope to see completed by now.
But he said he’s pleased with what the county has accomplished during his time in office, including roadside garbage collection and countywide 24-hour fire and emergency medical services.
Commissioner Blondean Newman, who serves District 2 in North Bryan, has previously stated she will not be seeking re-election, though she was not able to be reached for comment for this article by presstime.
The chairman of the Bryan County Development Authority Ted Akins, a Black Creek real estate agent, stated earlier this year that he plans to run for the District 2 seat.
And Commissioner Rick Gardner is hoping to secure his second consecutive term serving the District 5 seat for South Bryan..
“There are a couple of things left to do that I haven’t completed,” Gardner said. “Time in office is one thing, but you have to do things within a budget – you have to think about a larger economic picture.
“I guess that’s a long way of saying I have decided to run for another term, provided the people will have me.”
Gardner said he’s also enjoyed serving on the governor’s water council, which is charged with making sure there is sustainable water for the foreseeable future. He cited water and other environmental issues as his key concerns.
On the Bryan County Board of Education, four seats will be on the ballot in November.
Board member Joe Pecenka, who serves District 4 in South Bryan, said he originally thought he would not seek a second term in office. But after giving it “a lot of consideration,” he said has recently changed his mind.
“I feel our school board is really headed in a positive direction, and it’s a critical time for budget issues,” Pecenka said.
He noted that the board will see some turnover in members after this year’s election, referring to members Mary Warnell in District 1 and Judy Crosby in Distric 5 who both announced last month their intentions to step down after this year.
Pembroke resident Mindy Boyette, an advertising sales manager with the Bryan County News, announced Thursday her intentions to run for the District 1 seat.
“The board is going to have some turnover, but I hope we can continue to work well as a board and work through the budget issues and in the positive direction I think we're going in,” Pecenka said.
But Pecenka did say that if he’s re-elected for a second four-year term, he does not plan on running for a third.
“Two terms is enough for me,” he said. “I think there are some advantages in your second term – it takes some time to learn how the process works. But I think after two terms it’s time to let someone else take the seat.”
Also up for grabs is the board of education’s chair seat, currently held by Eddie Warren of Richmond Hill. Warren was not able to be reached for comment by presstime.
The following is a list of some important dates regarding the 2010 elections:
- June 21: voter registration deadline for primary/special election.
- July 20: Primary Election Day.
- Oct. 4: voter registration deadline for regular/special election.
- Nov. 2: Election Day.