LEESBURG — Soon-to-be outgoing Lee County School Board member Greg Duke became one of the area’s first elected officials to be impacted by stricter ethics laws passed by the Georgia Legislature two years ago when officials confirmed Friday he was no longer eligible to defend his seat on the board.
Because Duke’s wife is an administrator in the Lee School System, the state’s ethics laws prohibit him from serving on the board.
“This is the first time I’m aware of that someone in Lee County was affected by the new laws,” Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson said. “There was a question of whether anyone already in office would be ‘grandfathered’ in and not be impacted, but the new law only allowed people to remain in office until their (current) term expired.”
With Duke no longer in the picture, CPA Claire B. Lang qualified Friday morning and became the de facto District 2 representative because she drew no opposition.
“I have no political experience, but I have been actively involved in PTO,” Lang said. “Also, a lot of my family members have been teachers or board members over the years, so I’ve always been interested.
“I think at this point, the School Board must work to maintain the system we have. We’ve had a very good school system for a long time, and I think it’s important that we work to keep it that way. This is a new experience for me, and I’m looking forward to it being a good experience.”
With the addition of Lang, 18 candidates officially qualified for spots on the Republican and Democratic primary ballots, for a special called election in Leesburg or as nonpartisan candidates in the county during the qualifying period. One of those candidates, Billy Breeden, wrapped up a position on the Leesburg City Council when he was the only person to qualify for the special election called to fill the Post 6 seat vacated by businesswoman Rhonda Futch.
In contested races, incumbent Sheriff Reggie Rachals will be challenged by David Cheshire in the Republican primary, while county commissioners Rick Muggridge (District 4) and Bill Williams (District 5) are being challenged by Frank Taylor and Greg Frich, respectively, in GOP races.
The most interesting race on the ballot will be for the District 2 County Commission seat currently held by Betty Johnson, the longtime public servant who announced last week she will not seek re-election. Two Republicans — Luke Singletary and Raymond Timms — and one Democrat — Mary Egler — qualified for that seat.
Singletary and Timms will square off in the July 31 primary, and the winner of that showdown will take on Egler in the general election Nov. 6.
Both Democratic and Republican primary ballots in the county will include the nonbinding question: “Should Lee County place any fee, such as the monthly garbage fee, on the annual property tax bill?”