January 4, 2013 11:54:24 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
Election season is in full swing in Columbus as incumbents and challengers began qualifying Wednesday for this year's municipal elections.
Incumbents who have qualified are Robert Smith (mayor), Gene Taylor (Ward 1 councilman), Charlie Box (Ward 3 councilman), Kabir Karriem (Ward 5 councilman) and Bill Gavin (Ward 6 councilman). Local business owner Susan Mackay has registered to run as a Republican in Ward 2 and former Columbus Municipal School District employee Kenneth McFarland has qualified in Ward 5.
Incumbent council members Joseph Mickens (Ward 2) and Fred Stewart (Ward 4) have not yet qualified, but have both said they would be running for re-election. Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Whirllie Byrd has also announced she would be challenging Gavin in Ward 6. Byrd had not qualified as of press time Friday.
The last day to qualify is March 8 at 5 p.m.
"We had a few people qualify early," Columbus Registrar Brenda Williams said. "In the last election, we had people qualifying up until the last minute. You never know how it's going to go."
The primary election will be held May 7. If necessary, a run-off will be held May 21.
The 2013 municipal election marks the first election held under the new redistricting plan, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Justice in November.
The redistricting will not affect Wards 1 and 2. In Ward 3, residents south of Hemlock Street and west of McCrary Street move into Ward 4. The Ward 6 area south of Waverly Road and a block of Sixth Street North are now in Ward 5.
City Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said the city will soon be sending out notices to those whose voting precincts will be affected by the redistricting.
2013 Municipal Election Qualifying Candidates
Robert Smith (I)
Ward 1: Gene Taylor (I)
Ward 2: Susan Mackay (R)
Ward 3: Charlie Box (I)
Ward 5: Kabir Karriem (I); Kenneth McFarland
Ward 6: Bill Gavin (I)