The verdict is in: Lee Anderson is not eligible to run for the County Commission seat being vacated by Barry Fleming, who is stepping down to run for the state House seat being vacated by Bill Jackson, who is stepping down to run for the nearest fishin hole.
State Rep. Ben Harbin last week was certain that Anderson couldnt run for the special election to replace Fleming, because Anderson doesnt live in that district. That seems pretty simple, except that Anderson will live in the newly redrawn 4th District.
Those boundaries wont be in effect, however, until the current term expires in 2004. So Harbin was right: Ander-son cant run.
Thats the opinion of Columbia County Attorney Doug Batchelor, delivered in writing last week to Elections Director Deborah Marshall. It puts an end to a week of uncertainty for Anderson, but it also casts doubt on the former school board members plans for a return to any elected office this year.
Anderson could, of course, change his mind and return to his original plan to run for Jacksons House seat. But Flemings power-packed announcement provided a tough hurdle for anyone else getting in the race. Had Anderson not pulled out, he would have faced Fleming in the primary to replace Jackson.
Not only has nearly every elected official in Columbia County endorsed Fleming, but Jacksons endorsement of Fleming also came through the fax machine the same day Batchelor delivered his opinion to Marshall.
So, beating Fleming for Jacksons seat would be tough. What else is there? Anderson could run for the state Senate seat occupied by Joey Brush. No free ride there, either. That convoluted, newly drawn district is friendly to Brush, who in the last election received more general election votes in Columbia County than anyone - more, even, than Sheriff Clay Whittle (who also endorses Fleming, by the way).
Or, Anderson could run for the newly created position of elected County Commission chairman. That race is likely to get very crowded, and will provide a philosophical tug-of-war for politicians wanting to put their stamp on the new leadership post.
For his part, Anderson shrugs and says Im not mad or anything. I guess Ill just have to wait 2 1/2 years.
Probably not a bad choice.
Brown, Spears face off
One race that is clear: County Commissioner Frank Spears, who already has announced his intention to seek re-election to the redrawn District 1, will face Planning and Zoning Com-missioner Steve Brown in the Aug. 20 Republican primary.
This will be one of the best races in Columbia County from a purely intellectual standpoint. The two mens styles are totally different: Spears is gregarious and media-savvy, qualities that often earn him grumbling from fellow public officials who feel he hogs the spotlight. Brown is quieter and more studious, but has to overcome the baggage that accompanies any real estate developer attempting to enter elected office.
Brown will make a formal announcement sometime after the Masters, but for now, his few words do the trick: Im running.
Two good men
A couple of good local men passed away last week after rich, full lives:
Gerald Carter, 89, of Harlem, was a retired contractor and engineer, and an avid golfer. For The News-Times family, it is significant that Carter was the widower of the late Helen Paschal Carter, former editor of The Columbia News.
Dr. Joseph Echols Sr., 76, spent 42 years as an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Augusta. It is significant to my family that Dr. Echols delivered my oldest daughter 15 years ago.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.