From Staff Reports

TIFTON -- No surprise candidates appeared among the 10 who qualified Monday with the local political parties to seek local offices on the June 20 General Primary Election ballot.

Among the Democrats qualifying Monday was Hayward Fowler, Fun Channel owner and businessman, and Daughtry Melton III, owner of Southview Mortuary, who are both seeking the chairmanship of the Tift County Commission. Also, former Juvenile Court Judge Fred W. "Buck" Rigdon qualified as a Democrat to seek the District 5 post on the commission. Incumbent Harriette Rowe has also announced she will seek re-election to the post.

Other Democratic incumbents qualifying Monday included: Gene Goode, Tift County Tax Commissioner; Doug Jones, Chief Magistrate Judge; and Betty Parson, Tift County Board of Education, District 1.

Republicans who qualified Monday included incumbents Gary Vowell, Sheriff, and Gwen Pate, Clerk of Superior Court. Pate has traditionally qualified as a Democrat. Grady Thompson qualified to run for the chairmanship of the Tift County Commission. Pharmaceutical representative Andy Cross qualified as a Republican to run for the Board of Education seat, District 7, currently held by Joseph Carter. Carter announced last fall that he would complete his current term on the board while he campaigns for the Georgia Senate District 13 seat.

The General Primary Election is a partisan-sponsored election. Candidates for local seats qualify either with the local Democratic or Republican party office. Qualifying begins at 9 a.m. Monday and ends at noon Friday. Those who intend to run on the Republican ticket should see Ralph F. "Rusty" Simpson at his law office at 112 E. 12th St. Democratic candidates can file the paperwork with Joe Kunes at his law office at 230 E. 2nd St.

Jean Edwards, clerk of the Tift County Board of Elections, said Friday that local Tift Superior Court judge candidates will qualify with the Secretary of State's office. Qualifying fees are calculated at three percent of the salary Tift County pays to office-holders.

Party offices will forward qualifying forms to Edwards who will then explain the rules of campaign financing to the candidates and complete appropriate paperwork.

Tift County Commission Chairman Buddy Bryan has indicated he will not seek re-election to the seat he has held for one four-year term, opening the way for Melton, Fowler and Thompson to vie for his seat. All voters in Tift County elect the chairman.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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