The Grovetown City Council on Wednesday unanimously decided to schedule a special election in November to fill the council seat vacated by George James, who resigned Monday to run for the Columbia County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat.
On Tuesday afternoon, James was the first candidate to announce his intention to seek the Commission seat recently vacated by Mark Devoti.
Devoti served on the city council with James before resigning last year to seek a position on the Board of Commissioners, and Devoti's wife, Scarlett, was one of several family members, friends and public officials on hand to back James during his announcement at the Columbia County Government Center in Evans.
"I'm not here with a bunch of new ideas or new schemes," said James, pledging to try to fill Devoti's "big shoes."
James starts the race with Devoti's backing, and with endorsements from the mayors of Harlem and Grovetown. The biggest needs for District 4, he said, are "infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure."
"Lots of areas need county water, especially now that we're getting into fire safety," James said. "Out in Leah and Winfield, once you get a fire truck out there, where are they going to get the water to put the fire out?"
James, a Columbia County native, has worked 26 years for Murray Biscuit and currently is a buyer for the maintenance department. He served from 1988-91 on the Grovetown City Council and lost his re-election bid; he then lost a later bid for Grovetown mayor, and then was elected to the council in 2001. James also has served as a girls softball coach and on the Columbia County Recreation Advisory Board.
Samuel Ray Jones Jr. of Harlem and Lee Ivey Anderson of Grovetown have filed their paperwork with the Columbia County Board of Elections to run in the special election, which will be Nov. 4. Neither could be immediately reached Thursday for comment about their campaign.
Another candidate who has filed, Rosa Lee Owens of Grovetown, said she has shown a long-term interest in the issues facing her area.
"I feel like the people in our district need someone to speak up for them," she said. "We need someone to represent District 4."
Owens, who is a retired schoolteacher, has served on the Columbia County Greenspace Committee, is a member of the Outstanding Educators Organization and sits on the Grovetown Museum Board.
Qualifying for the commissioner seat ends Wednesday. Candidates must pay $195 fee, have ben a resident of the county for at least a year and live in the District 4 area when taking office.
The qualifying period for the Grovetown Council seat will take place 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and will end at noon Wednesday. Anyone interested must be a Grovetown resident for at least a year, be older then 25 and pay a $108 fee.
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