Qualifying for Albany municipal races over

Unless a candidate drops out, the ballot for the 2011 municipal races is set.

— — What started out as a frantic Ward II qualifying period ended Friday with little fanfare, officials say.

After a two-and-a-half day qualifying period, three new candidates have emerged as contenders for the seat previously held by commissioner Dorothy Hubbard.

Hubbard was forced to vacate the seat when she decided to qualify to run for mayor. Hubbard, local businesswoman B.J. Fletcher and former state representative John White have qualified to run for mayor.

Whoever wins Hubbard's former seat — Cheryl Calhoun, Ivey Hines or Melissa Strother — will be a political newcomer to the city commission and local government in general. None of the candidates have previous political experience.

According to public records, Calhoun is a pastor and bus driver for the Dougherty County School System. She has lived in Dougherty County for at least five consecutive years and been a resident of Ward II for one year and two months.

Hines, who announced his candidacy publicly Monday, is a 58-year-old pastor and information technology specialist at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

According to his candidate affidavit, Hines has lived in Dougherty County for 31 consecutive years and has been a legal resident of Ward II for 25 consecutive years.

Strother is a graphic designer whose affidavit says she has been a Dougherty County resident for 20 years and a legal resident of Ward II for four years.

While the race for Ward II is technically a "special election" under Georgia law because Hubbard's term wasn't up when she had to leave her seat, the election will fall on the same day as the November 8 General election and the three will be on the same ballot as the mayor's race, the Dougherty County Board of Education's E-SPLOST renewal attempt and the Sunday alcohol sales question for residents of Ward II.