Primary election showdowns; list of candidates who plan to qualif | Local headline
Several key races in Catoosa County may be over after this summer’s primary election, while redistricting in the state legislature has altered the county’s political climate.
In three county races, a Democratic challenger has yet to step forward, likely setting up winner-take-all GOP showdowns in the July 20 primary election.
In the race for Catoosa County Board of Commissioners Chairman, incumbent Winford Long is set to square off against former State Rep. Bill Clark and former Catoosa County Manager Ed Vickrey in the Republican primary. The winner will face former Catoosa Commissioner Pat Page in November if no other Democrat qualifies for the post.
The race for Catoosa County commissioner District 1 also currently pits GOP members against each other. Former Fort Oglethorpe City Councilman Ken Marks will face off against former Catoosa County Human Resources director Patricia Silcox, wife of Fort Oglethorpe City Councilman Harold Silcox, for current Commissioner Mark Fletcher’s seat. Fletcher, a Democrat, said he will not run for the post due to health reasons.
The Catoosa County Probate Judge race is also shaping up to be an exclusively Republican contest as incumbent Greg Grayson faces Gene Lowery, a resource officer with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Department.
Candidates will begin qualifying for 2004 elections April 26 at 9 a.m. and have until April 30 at noon to officially join their respective races. Catoosa Democrats will be at the Courthouse Annex to qualify candidates April 26 from 9 a.m.-noon and April 29 from noon-4 p.m. Republicans will be qualifying candidates at the Annex April 28-29 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday, 8-10 a.m.
Due to political map redistricting in the Georgia State Legislature this year, the western portion of Catoosa now falls into District 1, submersing voters in the Fort Oglethorpe, Chambers, Lakeview and Westside precincts in a race that has been traditionally controversial.
District 1 will pit incumbent Mike Snow, D-Chickamauga, against GOP challenger Jay Neal of LaFayette for the fourth time in the past two years.
Special judges twice tossed election results after finding them inaccurate and ordered two special elections between the opponents. Snow lost the general election to Neal, but eked out victories in the two special elections.
Snow said he has successfully represented Catoosa in the past, but Neal said the new district draws in more conservative voters that will help him find victory in November.
Two state representative incumbents almost found themselves in the same district due to political map changes in another race that could be over after the primary election.
Rep. Ron Forster, R-Ringgold, plans to qualify for the District 3 Georgia House seat. Ringgold city employee Tracy Bass, a Republican, said he will also seek the District 3 post.
The race for the District 3 House seat is now a two-man contest after state Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton, announced last week he will seek the District 4 post instead.
The redrawing of state political maps this year placed both Williams and state Rep. Ron Forster, R-Ringgold, in District 3.
Williams originally announced that he would seek re-election in District 3, which includes the majority of Catoosa County and stretches into south Whitfield County, but he said he owns homes in both District 3 and District 4, which he has owned for about 25 years.
He said he has established his residency in District 4, which includes Dalton and a surrounding portion of Whitfield, with the Whitfield County Registrar’s Office.Staff writer Eric Beavers contributed to this story.