Tired of that dead-end, pencil-pushing, cubicle-dwelling job? Want excitement? Want to meet new and interesting people?
Well, join the Army. They need you in Afghanistan for Surge II. But if you want all these things and higher pay, too, perhaps you should run for office.
I don't suggest running for president. Actually, about a dozen of the approximately 1,432 people running for president this year should follow Bill Richardson's lead and quit.
Rather than go after the White House gig, I'm suggesting fortune-seekers instead run for those elected political jobs between president, where everyone hates you, and county commission, where everyone hates you.
These jobs balance light work, lots of travel and decent pay: the offices of United States senator or representative.
Georgia's press-release queen, Secretary of State Karen Handel, sent out an announcement the other day with information on qualifying for a variety of races. The list includes everything from congressional offices to state-level judges to the local district attorney, and lists the filing fee for those who want to sign up to ask voters to hire them.
For example, if you'd like to challenge Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who faces a tough re-election fight among conservatives, you'll need to write a check for $4,956 to the state Republican or Democratic party between April 28-May 2. (Independent qualifying is in late June, and more complicated; after all, the two major parties control the process.)
But if you win? The job pays $165,200 per year, plus significant expenses. You can even send mail to your friends for free.
The filing fee and the pay is the same for a congressional seat. Those candidates have to pay that fee three times as often, however, because their terms last only two years. Senators are in office for six.
Lower on the scale, Handel lists the office of district attorney. The pay for that post is $111,023.08 per year (why the 8 cents?), with a filing fee of $3,330.69.
That office could be in play for the Augusta Judicial Circuit this year. On Jan. 4, Gov. Sonny Perdue summoned to his office the three candidates he's considering for replacement of retired Superior Court Judge Neal Dickert.
District Attorney Danny Craig, Columbia County Magistrate Wade Padgett and Augusta attorney Freddie Sanders made the trip.
If Craig gets the appointment, it would create a rare opening for DA. The governor would pick an interim DA, and the election for the office would be held later this year.
If Padgett gets the nod, the judges also would appoint a successor, creating a race for magistrate in the fall. Sanders doesn't currently serve in elected office.
Who will get the appointment? It might be a while before we find out. Perdue typically has been very slow in making judicial appointments - the general time is about six weeks, meaning an appointment could take until nearly the end of February.
The base pay for superior court judges, Handel points out, is $116,749.57 per year. Because Dickert's term would have ended this year, the new judge will have to almost immediately run for the office - which will cost him a filing fee of $3,502.49.
To earn, learn
Meanwhile, for students pondering their future - and wondering if they'd like to one day run for office - an important suggestion was implied in a press release last week from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Their data show that workers age 18 and older with a master's, professional or doctoral degree earned an average of $83,320 in 2006. Those without a high school diploma earned one-fourth as much - an average of $20,873.
In short: More education means more money. Unless you run for Congress.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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