Candidates set for Fulton commission chair, polls to stay open later

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Candidates set for Fulton commission chair, polls to stay open later

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Phil Skinner
Voters turn out at the Roswell Branch Public Library to cast the ballots early in the 6th congressional district special election in June. Polls will be open later in November. (Photo by Phil Skinner) AJC FILE PHOTO

Fulton County voters will get an extra hour at the polls in November as they elect a new county commission chair and local representatives.

Polls will close at 8 p.m., not 7 p.m., Nov. 7 following a request from the county’s elections director.

State law says that when a city with more than 300,000 people — like Atlanta — has an election, the polls will stay open until 8 p.m. It also says when there’s a non-city election for a district that’s within a city’s borders, voting for that race will take place for the same hours as the city races.

Atlanta has a city election Nov. 7 where voters will choose a new mayor, among other offices. The same day, some voters will also elect a representative for Fulton County commission district 4, which is located entirely within Atlanta.

Because there is also a countywide race for the chair of the county commission that day, Richard Barron, Fulton’s director of registration and elections, asked that polling places throughout the county stay open later. The request was granted by a Fulton County Superior Court judge.

The candidates for the commission chair’s seat were set Wednesday, when qualifying closed. There will be three candidates: Robb PittsGabriel Sterling and Keisha Waites.

Pitts, who was a member of the county’s board of commissioners from 2003 to 2014, and a member of Atlanta’s city council before that, said he thinks Fulton is “poised for greatness.”

“In order to achieve its true, full potential, it’s going to take leadership,” he said. “I’m the one who has leadership skills, has experience.”

Pitts, an independent financial representative and international business consultant, said he sees fixing issues related to high property appraisals and transportation as the county’s biggest needs.

Sterling, a Sandy Springs councilman first elected in 2011, said he thinks it’s time for the county to “right-size” and refocus, now that it has been almost entirely municipalized.

He said capping property tax rates is a key concern. Sterling, who ran a public relations and political consulting business, is now developing a new food and beer label.

“Local government is where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “When you want to get something done, local is the place to be.”

Waites, a state representative who was elected in 2012, resigned her seat to run. An emergency manager who does contract work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said her relationships with state lawmakers will help her succeed.

Waites said she was particularly interested in ensuring seniors could age in place, in addition to fixing property tax issues.

“You can’t get anything done at Fulton County without collaboration from the state,” she said. “I’ve done the things I want to do at the capitol. It’s time to move on to greater service.”

ELECTION DAY 2017

If you want to vote in any of the races on the Nov. 7 ballot this year, you must register to vote by Oct. 10.

Early voting will take place beginning Oct. 16. Exact times and locations vary by county.

The last day to mail or issue absentee ballots is Nov. 3.

Election day is Nov. 7. Polls in throughout the metro area will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In Fulton County, they will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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