A week after an 18-count indictment was handed down by a grand jury, state Sen. Don Balfour remains in his position.
But that isn’t stopping people from jumping into the political mix in an attempt to replace him.
On Tueday, Lawrenceville Councilman P.K. Martin announced he would seek Balfour’s District 9 seat, which covers much of Lawrenceville and Snellville.
“After a lot of thought, prayer and encouragement from people all over the district, I am excited to announce my campaign for state Senate,” Martin said in a press release. “I am running because we need an ethical, conservative leader in the Senate who will make us proud and work hard to deliver conservative reforms to improve this district and our state.”
For now, though, Balfour, R-Snellville, only faces a suspension from the position he has held for 20 years, after a Fulton County grand jury indicted him on 18 counts, including theft by taking, involving seeking per diem and mileage reimbursements for business within the state at a time when lobbyists recorded paying for business conducted outside of the state.
According to the governor’s press secretary Sasha Dlugolenski, Gov. Nathan Deal will have 14 days to name a panel to consider a recommendation of suspension, once the bill of indictment is turned over by the Attorney General’s office.
That letter had not been delivered as of Tuesday, but Dlugolenski said it would start the clock on the process, where a panel consisting of a senator, a House member and a retired judge from either the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals meets to determine Balfour’s future. That group will have 14 days to make a recommendation after the governor appoints the panel.
But Dlugolenski pointed out that if the once-powerful senator is suspended — either by the governor or voluntarily — a special election will not be held to replace him. That would occur only if Balfour resigned from office.
Otherwise, the earliest election would come either after the case is adjudicated or the term ends, which is at the end of 2014.
Martin, who will leave office at the end of this year after deciding to step down after eight years on the city council, could have to wait another year for the ballot, but he has decided to go ahead and begin the campaign.
“On the Lawrenceville City Council, I have a conservative record of reforming government, opposing wasteful spending, cutting taxes, and attracting jobs. More importantly, I have always provided the people I represent with honest, ethical leadership, and I have been a leader in increasing transparency in government to insure our elected leaders are accountable to the people,” the small business owner and city native said. “I look forward to earning the support of the people of this district and continuing my proven conservative record in the state Senate. I will never make promises that I can’t keep, but I will promise you this: I will always hold myself to a high ethical standard; I will be accountable to those I represent, and I will always work to make you proud. I ask for your prayers and support.”