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Dougherty elections officials expected to announce special County Commission election today

Unless there is a conflict with state law, the election is expected to be conducted May 20

ALBANY — Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said early this morning she expects to announce later today the call for a special election to fill the unexpired District 5 Dougherty County Commission seat.

The Dougherty County Elections Board met Wednesday and reportedly decided to hold the special called election, which became necessary when District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines resigned her seat to run for the commission chairmanship, to coincide with local primaries May 20.

Nickerson had previously said state law allows only two days for a special called election during even-numbered years: the presidential preference primary and the general election. Since there is no presidential election this year, the assumption was that the called election would be held on Nov. 4, the day of the general election.

But Dougherty County ordinances state that no commission seat may be kept vacant for a period of longer than six months, with the November election a little more than seven months away. Nickerson said this morning she is confirming the Elections Board’s decision with County Attorney Spencer Lee.

With the special election moved up to May 20, qualifying is expected to be held next week, March 26-28. The 2 1/2-day qualifying period will end at noon on the 28th and would be conducted in the elections office.

Contractor Harry James, who was defeated by Gaines when she first took office in 2008, is the only candidate who has announced intentions to run for the District 5 seat.