Columbia County Chief Magistrate David Huguenin (left) held a news conference Wednesday in front of the Columbia County ourthouse Annex in Evans to announce his retirement and endorse Associate Magistrate Wade Padgett (right).
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Under the noon sun Wednesday, Columbia County Chief Magistrate David Huguenin reflected on his past 15 years in the office and opened the door to a contested campaign for his successor.
''We've seen this office change a lot and grow along with the county,'' said Huguenin, who is retiring to spend more time with his family, at his private law practice and on a farm he owns near Beaufort, S.C.
As the qualifying period ended Friday, the chief magistrate position will be one of threecontested races at the county level for the July 20 primaries. Sheriff Clay Whittle also will face Republican challenger Lewis Blanchard in the primaries, and Republican County Commissioner Diane Ford is being challenged by Republican Greg Kernaghan.
Six other county offices that were up for election this year are essentially decided since no one signed up to run against the incumbents. County Commissioners Lee Anderson and Tom Mercer, Coroner Tommy King Sr., Clerk of Court Cindy Mason, Probate Judge Pat Hardaway and Tax Commissioner Kay Allen were the only ones to qualify for their respective offices last week.
All are running on the Republican ticket.
In the judge's race, Huguenin endorsed Associate Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett during his announcement Wednesday.
''I hope and expect that I will be able to continue the great tradition that David has established,'' Padgett said. ''I think that I am the best qualified to serve.''
Also attending Huguenin's farewell announcement was attorney Richard Ingram, who will be running against Padgett in the Republican primaries.
Ingram said the idea to one day run for the position came to him when people approached him while he managed Mason's clerk of court campaign several years ago.
''They told me, 'Young man, you need to look at this one day','' Ingram said. ''It's been on my mind all this time.''
Former associate magistrate Hal Morris also qualified Friday as a Republican for the magistrate post.
Whittle and Blanchard, who already have been campaigning against each other for months, also officially qualified last week.
At the state level, the Senate race for the 24th District will be the only contested one from Columbia County's legislative delegation.
On a bus loaded with family members and political supporters, former Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim White-head drove to Atlanta on Wednesday to qualify to run against state Sen. Joey Brush in the Republican primaries.
Meanwhile, Brush, R-Appling, is trying to coordinate a time for Gov. Sonny Perdue to visit Brush's campaign trail and lend his endorsement.
The winner of the July 20 Repub-lican primary will face a November challenge from Martinez attorney Chuck Pardue, a Democrat.
Members in Columbia County's state House seats Reps. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem; Ben Harbin, R-Evans and now Sue Burmeister, R-Augusta also qualified and will run unopposed.
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