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Qualifying begins ahead of municipal elections

Posted: August 23, 2017 - 3:48am  |  Updated: August 23, 2017 - 9:14am
Harlem City Councilman John Thigpen fills out paperwork to qualify for re-election for his seat Monday at Harlem City Hall.   ABBIGAIL LENNON
ABBIGAIL LENNON
Harlem City Councilman John Thigpen fills out paperwork to qualify for re-election for his seat Monday at Harlem City Hall.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the end date for qualifying in the city of Harlem. Qualifying ends Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 4:30 p.m.

Harlem city council member John Thigpen put his name in the hat to retain his city council seat early Monday morning at Harlem City Hall, at the beginning of qualifying week for November's municipal elections.

Thigpen is seeking re-election for one of two council seats up for vote along with the Mayorship.

"Harlem is in a position right now in Columbia County that we have been planning for several years," Thigpen said. "There are a lot of decisions that are going to need to be made that I feel like i have a lot of experience and input in making those decisions and helping make Harlem into more of a nice little cozy place that we would like it to stay."

Thigpen, who has lived in Harlem for more than 20 years said the council has worked to put Harlem in a position to accommodate the slow growth the city has seen since he first ran for his council seat.

"When I first got on council, everybody was talking about growth. This was back in 2002 and growth has been slow so we have been planning," Thigpen said. "We put things in place to plan for infrastructure improvements, we've done that. We are about to expand our wastewater treatment plant which is something we have been planning for many years."

Thigpen originally served on the city's planning and zoning committee before being elected to the council and that now, the city is ready to take its next steps.

"Harlem is poised to make that next step to that next level and I have been real pleased with the progress we have made so far and hopefully look forward to helping make progress and continue to improve," Thigpen said.

At the end of qualifying this week, Thigpen said he hopes to get to work and touch base with some of Harlem's 500 new residents.

"A lot of them don't know me, so I want to make sure that I try to meet as many of them as possible," Thigpen said.

"I would appreciate any support. I hope your vote of confidence will allow me to continue looking out for the voters' best interest in the interest of Harlem," he added in speaking to the voters.

Current Harlem Councilmember Danny Bellavanace will also seek re-election, while Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper has said he will not seek another term as mayor.

Longtime county board of education member and Harlem native Roxanne Whitaker posted on her Facebook page in May that she plans to seek election to fill Culpepper's seat in November. Whitaker also qualified Monday.

"Over the past several weeks, many citizens of Harlem have asked me to run for the office of Mayor and I am truly humbled. After much consideration, discussions with my family and prayer, I am proud to announce I will be running for the Mayor's seat of Harlem," Whitaker's Facebook post reads. "I envision many opportunities for our city as we grow. It is my desire to be actively involved with our growth, to ensure we maintain the quality of life we are accustomed to and to preserve our small town hospitality. In the coming months, I look forward to meeting and speaking to each of you."

In Grovetown, two have submitted necessary paperwork to qualify for the election including councilmember incumbent Vickie Cook and Dr. Deborah Fisher, according to new city administrator John Waller. He added that Fisher recently resigned from the city's Planning Commission in order to pursue the council seat.

Incumbent councilwoman Syliva Martin confirmed she will seek re-election and that she plans to submit qualifying information and fees Thursday morning at Grovetown City Hall.

In May, a county election will be held for two new seats on the Columbia County Board of Education, two county commission seats and the commission chair seat.

County commissioner Doug Duncan entered a Declaration of Intent July 6, to seek the chairman position currently held by incumbent Ron Cross. Former county EMA director Pam Tucker also signed a declaration of intent March 9, also seeking the chairman position. Small business owner Mark Herbert too entered a declaration of intent for the chairman position March 8.

Evans resident Connie Melear signed a declaration of intent Aug. 1 to seek election to Duncan's county commission seat.

County commissioner Bill Morris' District 4 seat is also up for re-election. Charles Dozier Johnson Jr. signed a declaration of intent to seek election to Morris' seat Aug. 10.

And two others have also submitted declarations of intent to seek the District 3 Board of Education Seat, currently held by Mike Sleeper.

George Douglas Bratcher signed a declaration of intent July 25 and Andrew T. Kemp submitted his declaration of intent Feb. 28.

Board of education District 2 seat, currently held by Kristy Baker is also up for re-election.

 

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