Five Republicans and one Democrat have thrown their hats in the ring for the state House District 5 special election race.
The qualifying period, which opened Wednesday, for the Jan. 8, 2019, special election closed Friday. The special election was called to fill the seat previously held by the late Rep. John Meadows, who died last month after a battle with stomach cancer -- Meadows had won re-election in the Nov. 6 general election.
The five Republicans who qualified were: Matt Barton, Steve Cochran, Larry Massey Jr., Scott Tidwell and Jesse Vaughn. The only Democrat to qualify was Brian Rosser, who ran against Meadows in the November election.
According to qualifying information:
Barton is self-employed, operating his own service delivery company, and previously served on Calhoun Board of Education and City Council. He lost a re-election bid for the City Council to current Councilman George Crowley last year.
Cochran listed his occupation as retired for his qualifying information.
Massey is a current member of the Gordon County Board of Education. However, he will leave his post on the board at the end of the year after losing a re-election bid to Eddie Hall in the Republican primary in May. He is self-employed.
Rosser is a musician who has attended Dalton State College. He jumped into the political arena with a focus on using social media and the internet to reach potential voters and stir up excitement around the political process.
Tidwell is the pastor of Prayer Baptist Church and recently joined Liberty National as an insurance agent. He has been active with the Gordon County Republican Party for several years. He lost to state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, in the Republican primary for the District 54 seat last spring.
Vaughn is an attorney at Calhoun law firm Vaughn & Clement, which he started in 2006. He is a 1991 graduate of Calhoun High School, and has served in numerous community roles, including the board of directors for the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce and Habitat for Humanity.
If no candidate secures the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to win, a runoff election will be held Feb. 5.
Early Voting will begin on Dec. 17 and will end on Jan. 4. The Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration office will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas as well as New Year's Day. The only early voting location will be at the elections office at 215 N. Wall St., from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The last day to register to vote in the special election is Dec. 12. To check voter registration status and determine polling location, go to the My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov or call the elections office at 706-629-7781.
In an emailed news release, Elections Chair Shea Hicks detailed those who will be eligible to vote in the special election. Those registered to vote in the following precincts are eligible: 1055 Plainville, 1064 Oostanaula, 1054 Sugar Valley, 980 Resaca, 1063 Pine Chapel, 849-A County/Belmont, 849-B City of Calhoun and 856 Lily Pond.
Also, only the voters in the 973 Red Bud and 1056 Sonoraville precincts who live in House District 5 can vote in the special election. The Oakman and Fairmount voting precincts are not included in the special election.