Politics: The most interesting 12 months in local politics is about to begin — and a big part of it hinges on a decision due by May 25. Plus the May 2020 primary could be a shocker.

Politics: The most interesting 12 months in local politics is about to begin — and a big part of it hinges on a decision due by May 25. Plus the May 2020 primary could be a shocker.

All seats in Ward 1 (red) and Ward 3 (green) of the City of Rome are up for election in 2019.

By Natalie Simms

Much like college football, its always election season in Northwest Georgia. Within the next 12 months, we’ll see a Rome City Commission election, the presidential primary and then the local/state primary — all by May 19, 2020.

Even closer — three months away — is the deadline for qualifying for the 2019 Municipal Elections, including six seats on the Rome City Commission. One commissioner in particular must make a definitive choice by May 25, a decision that could effect both the Ward 1 and Ward 3 ballots.

Rome voters will head to the polls on Nov. 5 to cast ballots for six seats on the City Commission, which include three seats from Ward 1 and three seats from Ward 3. Also on the ballot will be the ‘Brunch Bill’ resolution that, if approved, would allow pouring establishments to begin selling alcohol at 11 a.m. instead of 12:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Qualifying for the City Commission seats is Monday, Aug. 19, through Friday, Aug. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at City Hall. Those seats up for election this year include Ward 1 seats now held by Bill Irmscher, Milton Slack and Sundai Stevenson, as well as Ward 3 seats now held by Bill Collins, Craig McDaniel and Evie McNiece. The top three vote-getters in each race will get the seats.

Most of the current commissioners plan to run for re-election but a few haven’t made final decisions at this time. What they said:

Bill Irmscher: He was out of town this week for his granddaughter’s graduation and was unavailable for comment.

Milton Slack: “I haven’t made a final decision yet but I most likely will.”

Sundai Stevenson: “I plan to announce my decision in the coming days.”

Bill Collins: “At this point in time, yes, I’m planning on running for re-election.”

Craig McDaniel: “I haven’t decided definitely but likely will. My goal when I first ran was to serve two terms.”

Evie McNiece has a big decision to make by May 25.

Evie McNiece may throw a curveball into this year’s election. She’s lived in Ward 3 since joining the commission 12 years ago; however, her home is on the market. As of last Friday, it had not yet sold. Last year, she purchased a home in the Between the Rivers district that is in Ward 1 but has not yet moved into it.

“Both of these wards are up for re-election this year,” she says. “If my current home doesn’t sell and I continue to live there, I can run in Ward 3 again. If I choose to move downtown to live permanently, then I can run in Ward 1.”

In addition to the one-year city residency requirement for candidates, there is a 90-day ward residency rule that that states candidates must reside in their particular ward for 90 days prior to qualifying. This means McNiece has to make her decision on where she will live and run by May 25.

“I may possibly be in Ward 1 by the date,” she says. “But I will make that decision by May 25.”

There have been some rumblings of other names who may toss their hat into the ring for City Commission but at this time no one has officially announced their candidacy.

The May 2020 primary

Looking ahead, the general primary and non-partisan general election will be on May 19, 2020, with the general election on Nov. 3, 2020. Dates are still to be determined for the Presidential Preference Primary. Qualifying for the general election will be March 2-6, 2020.

Aside from the federal offices, there will be a number of local races on the 2020 ballot including seats on Floyd County Commission, Floyd Board of Education and Floyd County Sheriff. So, who’s in for 2020?

Floyd County Sheriff: So far, three candidates have declared to run for the seat that will be vacated as Tim Burkhalter retires. Those planning to run so far include Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson. We expect a few more names to enter this race as well.

Floyd County Commission: Post 2 and Post 3 will be on the ballot, which includes seats now held by Wright Bagby and Allison Watters. Both commissioners said it was “too early” for them to make any decision on their re-election efforts in 2020. Look for opposition within the Republican primary.

Floyd Board of Education: District 2 (Model area), District 3 (Coosa area) and District 5 (Cave Spring area) will be on the 2020 ballot. Current board members Jay Shell (District 3) and Melinda Strickland (District 2) both said they plan to seek re-election at this time. Melinda Jeffers (District 5) says it is too early for her to make a decision. “I have enjoyed being on the school board but I don’t know yet what the future will bring, but I plan to make a decision after the first of the year in 2020 as we get closer to qualifying,” says Jeffers.

Floyd County Superior Court Judge J. Bryant Durham announced he will retire when his current term ends on Dec. 31, 2020 and will not seek re-election, so his seat will be on the 2020 ballot.  (Background)

State House District 12: Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R) says he plans to run for re-election in 2020. Look for a surprise name in the GOP primary.

State House District 13: Rep. Katie Dempsey (R) says she “has every intention of seeking re-election.” A primary challenge, while always rumored, usually fails to form. One of those under consideration in 2018 is being courted — and heavily — for the upcoming race.

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