At the regular Hinesville City Council meeting Jan. 17, council agreed to enter into a contract with the Liberty County Board of Elections to facilitate their March 19 special election for the vacant District 5 council seat.
The seat, which opened in September 2018 after Mayor Pro Tem and District 5 council member Kenneth Shaw resigned, has since been vacant. In his resignation letter, Shaw stated that “while this is not a decision I arrived at easily, it is one that I feel is necessary and in the best interest of my district and my city, both of which I love dearly.”
Shaw served on city council for five consecutive terms—totaling nearly 19 years, according to a Hinesville news release. Currently, Mayor Allen Brown serves as the liaison for District 5 while the seat remains empty, City Manager Ken Howard said.
“Additionally, all Hinesville City Council members have made themselves available to residents of District 5 should they have questions, problems or needs to be relayed to council,” Howard said.
Council quickly moved to arrange a special election for March to fill the seat. City council approved a motion at the Jan. 17 meeting to contract with the Liberty County Board of Elections and Voter Registration to conduct the election.
The city has officially placed a call for eligible candidates to fill the vacancy. Candidates must attend one of the three available qualifying periods to begin the process of confirming their candidacy, according to a City of Hinesville notice.
The sessions are 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14, and 8:30 a.m. – noon, Feb. 15. The qualifying period is the only time leading up to the special called election that potential candidates will be able to qualify for candidacy, Howard continued.
“Candidates need to visit City Hall during one of these times,” he said. “There they will meet with the City Clerk regarding fees, qualifying requirements and the election itself. There are no informational sessions required of potential candidates, aside from meeting with the clerk. An appointment for this meeting is not required.”
The qualifying period is simply the three-day period where potential candidates will officially declare their candidacy with the city, pay the qualifying fee of $360, discuss the qualifying standards as laid out by the Hinesville Charter and the State of Georgia, and complete paperwork declaring and verifying candidacy, Howard said.
In order to run for the seat, a candidate must be a resident of District 5 for at least 12 months prior to the date of the special election, the notice read. No person shall be eligible unless they: are 21 years of age or older; a citizen of the United States and the State of Georgia; and shall have resided in the City of Hinesville for at least 12 months prior to election.
“In addition to these provisions, the Georgia Provision O.C.G.A (Code Section 45-2-1) lists seven others set by the Georgia State Constitution that candidates must meet in order to qualify for candidacy in this election,” Howard said. “Any other violations of the state constitution, which can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, would result in disqualification from the election.”
Whoever becomes the new District 5 representative; however, will be required to run in the general election taking place in the fall, Howard added. As of Jan. 24, there have been no confirmed potential candidates for the election.
Early voting will held from Feb. 25 to Mar. 15 at the Voters Registration Office in the Liberty County Historical Courthouse, 100 Main Street, Hinesville. The official polling place for City of Hinesville elections is the Charles M. Shuman Recreation Center, 800 Tupelo Trail. Voting will be open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Mar. 19.