Columbia County voters will have some choices to make come May 20.
Based on the candidates who qualified to run last week, commission seats and one school board seat will be contested in the upcoming primary.
In the race for county Commission Chairman, incumbent Ron Cross will be opposed by local builder and activist Jim Bartley. Both qualified with the Columbia County Republican Party, according to Elections Director Nancy Gay.
In the race for Commission District 1, two candidates qualified with the Republican Party to replace outgoing Commissioner Ron Thigpen. Doug Duncan, a vice president with Augusta staffing firm MAU Inc., will face Hafeez Chaudhry, a Martinez businessman and hotel developer.
Incumbent District 4 Commissioner Bill Morris will face a familiar challenger, but not until the November general election. Once again, he will be opposed by Democrat Vernon Thomas Sr., who lost by 23 votes in 2011.
In the nonpartisan county Board of Education races, incumbents Kristi Baker and Mike Sleeper qualified for their seats, Gay said. Sleeper, however, will face a political newcomer, Staten Heard, for the District 3 seat in May. Heard is a retired logistics executive who worked for General Motors and EZ-GO Textron.
Officials are still uncertain when qualifying dates will be announced to fill the Commission District 3 seat recently vacated by Charles Allen. Gay also said the tax commissioner election could be held in November, but Gov. Nathan Deal must call for the special election.
Those details haven’t stopped some from announcing their intentions to seek that office. On Friday, certified public accountant and former school board member Wayne Bridges tossed his hat into the ring. And former Deputy Tax Commissioner Dwight Johnson, who was fired by Kay Allen in October, said he “definitely” was going to qualify and campaign for the post as soon as dates are announced.