Laughter to face challenge from Jensen

Qualifying for races on the May 19 ballot began on Monday and continues through Friday.

On the first day of qualifying for the May 19 elections, two people on Monday qualified for the race for chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, incumbent Lynn Laughter and fellow Republican Jevin Jensen.

Qualifying continues through Friday.

Laughter was first elected to the board in 2012, and she was elected chairman in 2016. Jensen is owner of Jevin's Ace Hardware in Varnell.

Republicans Babs Bailey, has worked in the Whitfield County Clerk of Superior Court's criminal division, and April Plott, an 18-year veteran of the clerk's office in Catoosa County, qualified for Whitfield County Clerk of Superior Court.

Incumbent Greg Bates, a Republican, qualified for Whitfield County coroner; incumbent Republican Danny Sane qualified for tax commissioner; and incumbent Republican Ron Johnson qualified for the District 1 seat on the Whitfield County Board of Education. Qualifying for county commissioner posts were Republicans Greg Jones, the incumbent from District 4, and Robby Staten, a challenger for the District 2 post held by Harold Brooker. Jones, a lifelong Whitfield County resident, was first elected to the county school board in a 2007 special election.

Democrat Scott Chitwood, who has been Whitfield County's sheriff for more than a quarter century, qualified to run for another term as the county's chief law enforcement officer.

Incumbent Rod Weaver qualified as a magistrate judge in Whitfield County, while incumbent Chris Griffin qualified for chief magistrate of Whitfield County. Magistrate is a nonpartisan office.

In Murray County, two incumbents, Chris Fowler and Eric Hooker, qualified for magistrate positions.

Republicans Kevin Cooke, a state representative from Carrollton who is the associate athletic director at Shorter University and who has been a member of the legislature since 2011; John Cowan, a neurosurgeon at Rome’s Harbin Clinic; Dalton's Clayton Fuller, an attorney; and Rome's Marjorie Taylor Greene, co-owner of Taylor Commercial Inc., all qualified for the U.S. House of Representatives seat from District 14, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties. The incumbent, Republican Tom Graves, announced last year he would not seek another term.

Incumbent Republican Chuck Payne of Dalton qualified again for District 54 state senator, as did Dan McEntire of Dalton, a Republican small businessman. Payne has served in the state Senate from the 54th district, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties, since 2017, and he served in the United States Army before embarking upon a three-decade career with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. McEntire, a native of Chatsworth who graduated from Murray County High School and served as Chatsworth's mayor for four years, established Supreme Carpet Inc. in 1988.

Incumbent Republican Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga qualified for District 2 state representative. Tarvin, an insurance agent, has served in the House since 2014. District 2 includes parts of Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield counties.

Incumbent Calhoun Republican Matt Barton qualified for District 5 state representative.

Chatsworth's Jason Ridley, an incumbent Republican, qualified for District 6 state representative. The district includes parts of Whitfield and Murray counties.

Jasper's Rick Jasperse, an incumbent Republican, qualified for state representative from District 11, which includes parts of Gordon, Murray and Pickens counties.

Charlie Bethel of Dalton qualified to run for the justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia position he now holds. Then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Bethel to the Georgia Court of Appeals in November 2016, just a day after Bethel, a Republican, was elected to a fourth term in the state Senate. Deal appointed Bethel to the Supreme Court in 2018. Supreme Court races are nonpartisan.

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