Lee Board members unopposed

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Two members of the Lee County School System's Board of Education had their tickets punched for another four-year term Friday when the noon deadline passed for nonpartisan election qualifying.

Incumbents Bobby Clay in District 1 and Louis Hatcher in District 3 qualified earlier in the weeklong qualifying period -- as they had previously announced they would do -- and no one came forward to challenge either.

"I think the Lee County School System has had success where others haven't because of the community support for the system," said Clay, whose new term will be his third on the current board. Clay also served three consecutive terms starting in 1952. In between his separate tenures on the Board, Clay served as superintendent of schools for 32 years.

Hatcher, an Albany attorney, will also be serving his third term on the Board. He was not available for comment Friday.

Lee County Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said would-be Independent County Commission candidate Mary Egler had paid her qualifying fees to run against District 1 Commissioner Dennis Roland. As an Independent, Egler must obtain and certify signatures from 5 percent of the active registered voters in District 1.

Johnson said Egler would need 116 signatures.

"She's met all the requirements up to now," the elections chief said. "She has to have her signatures turned in by July 13. Once they're certified, she will be a valid candidate in the Nov. 2 General Election."

Barring the emergence of a write-in candidate, who would have to formally file for that status by Sept. 7 and whose name still would not appear on the ballot, both Hatcher and Clay will continue their work on the School Board uninterrupted.

"With the economy as it is, we have a challenge ahead of us," Clay said. "It's going to require some belt-tightening. But I think this fiscal year we're going to be OK. We have no tax increase -- no millage increase -- in this year's budget, and we're not laying anyone off. Plus, we won't have a significant increase in class sizes.

"So if the state doesn't come up with some more cuts that we don't know about, we should be in fairly good shape."