Candidates to qualify to run this week

LAWRENCEVILLE - While the presidential ballot is still up in the air, the race to set November ballots for local elections will begin this week.

That's when candidates file paperwork to qualify for offices from U.S. Senate and Congress to the Georgia General Assembly, the county commission and the local school board.

For the past few months, candidates jockeyed for position and raised money, but the official campaign season begins with the qualifying period, in which the July 15 primary ballots for Democrats and Republicans will be set.

With announcements so far, the 2008 election season is likely to be contentious all the way down the ballot. Three candidates have announced intentions to seek the county chairman's position: incumbent Charles Bannister, Commissioner Lorraine Green and political newcomer Glenn Pirkle.

There are also three people vying for Green's commission seat: former Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter, former Suwanee Councilwoman Carol Hassell and Gwinnett Village activist Bruce LeVell. All are Republicans.

At least a couple of legislators will face opposition, too. Last week, local attorney Lee Thompson, a Democrat, said he would challenge Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville.

"I've had several people talking to me about county commission or school board, but you never know until they come up here and file paperwork," said Mike Berlon, the chairman of the local Democratic Party.

To file paperwork for local offices for that party, go to 724 Pella Court in Loganville.

Republicans will file paperwork at the Pro/Active Realty Partners offices in suite 1100 of 5415 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville.

Those seeking state offices must qualify at the state Capitol.

For information about qualifying, go to www.sos.ga.gov/elections/