Council vacancy to be filled in November

Published 12:12 pm Friday, January 18, 2013

The office of the mayor of Bainbridge and three Bainbridge City Council seats will be up for election this November.

The Bainbridge City Council set the qualifying fees and dates for its general municipal election, which will be held on Nov. 5.

Following Georgia law, former councilman Dean Burke’s seat became vacant this past December when he qualified as a candidate in a special election for a vacant State Senate office.

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Under the terms of the city’s charter, the remaining five council members could have chosen to hold a special election to fill the vacancy, but instead chose to wait to fill the vacancy along with the November general election.

Mayor Edward Reynolds will be up for re-election in November, along with council members Glennie Bench, Phil Long and Joe Sweet.

Burke’s seat wouldn’t have been up for re-election until 2015.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer made a motion to place the vacant council seat on the November ballot, instead of at a prior date, to save the approximately $12,000 it would cost to hold a special municipal election.

No other state or county elections are scheduled for this year.

City Attorney Tom Conger said he had researched state law regarding filling vacant municipal offices and found “no support for an interpretation” that the seat had to be filled immediately.

Councilman Luther Conyers said he would ideally like for the council to “not have to operate short-handed for a full year.” Conyers said he would be in favor of changing the city’s charter to allow the council the option of filling a vacancy with a special election. Bench said she agreed.

Palmer noted that, for the purposes of elections, there are only two city council districts. She said she and Long still represent Council District B, as does Bench, who was elected at-large.

The fee a person must pay to qualify as a candidate for city council is $90, while the cost to qualify as a mayoral candidate is $171. Those costs are equal to three percent of the annual compensation for the respective posts, as outlined in state law, City Manager Chris Hobby said.

The council also held a public hearing on proposed new council district maps, which were re-drawn with minor changes due to the 2010 Census. The council will consider final adoption of the maps at its Feb. 5 meeting.