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Town seats up for election

Being a mayor may seem glamorous, but looks can be deceiving.
J. Donald Scott has been mayor of Newington for eight years, and he figures he’ll run for another term, or as he likes to call it, another “sentence.”
Other people have shown little interest in the job.
It doesn’t pay anything. The hours are long and the issues are sometimes contentious. “That’s probably why we can’t get people to run for the job,” Scott said. “I guess I’ll run for another term,” he said. “Nobody else will take it.”
He was mayor of Newington once before, when he was 26 years old, in the early 1960s. He said he was the youngest mayor in the state at that time. He served only one term back then.
How did he manage to get such a short “sentence?”
He moved.
Why not employ that same strategy to get out of a third sentence, er term this time?
Scott is 71 and said he doesn’t want to move again.
Kidding aside, Scott, who is the manager of the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Sylvania, said Newington has some important issues coming up, including replacing the town’s 40-year-old sewerage system.
In addition to Scott’s seat, 12 other seats are up for election Nov. 3 in four municipalities in Screven County. Qualifying begins next week. Most of the cities and towns require people to be residents for one year and be registered voters in order to run for office.
The pay ranges from nothing in Newington and Rocky Ford to $2,400 a year in Sylvania.
In Newington, population 380, Scott’s seat is on the ballot, along with council seats held by Jene Perkins and Albert Perkins. Qualifying begins at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31, at Town Hall and continues through 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. The fee to qualify is $1.

Sylvania,
Population 3,000
In Sylvania, three seats on the city council are up for grabs. The seats currently are held by Mayor Pro Tem Preston Dees, Joette Black and Tripp Sheppard. People interested in qualifying to run for those seats may do so at City Hall, from 8:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31 through 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4. The fee to qualify in Sylvania is $72.
Candidates must be “qualified” voters, have lived in the city for a year and owe no city taxes that are more than a year overdue. The city has about 3,000 residents.
The Sylvania city council meets twice a month and council members make $2,400 a year, said Finance Director Stacy Mathis. That’s $100 per regular council meeting. But the council members must attend many more meetings than that and, for the most part, make themselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Margaret Evans, who has been mayor since May 1998.
“It’s a very responsible job,” she said. “We do not take it lightly. It takes a lot of time.”

Oliver
Population 230
Oliver, which has about 230 residents, will be filling one vacant seat and the seats held by Mayor Justine T. Brown and Gary Curtis. Qualifying costs $1, and can be done during regular business hours at City Hall, from Monday, Aug. 31 through Friday, Sept. 4. Business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Candidates must have lived in Oliver for a year. The city has one meeting each month, with the mayor making $50 per meeting and council members making $20 per meeting, said City Clerk Vonette Perkins.  “You do it for the glory, not the money,” Perkins joked.


Rocky Ford
Population 185
The City of Rocky Ford, which has 185 residents, has three council seats and the mayor’s seat up for election. The seats currently are held by Mayor James Hankinson, Thad Simmons, Fred Ruffin and Barry Durden.
Qualifying costs $1 and can be done at City Hall, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, through Friday Aug. 28. Contenders must have been a resident of the city for at least a year, must be a registered voter and can’t be a city employee, said Beth Ward, city clerk.
The mayor and council in Rocky Ford “make no money at all, legally or illegally,” for their service to the city, joked Hankinson, who has been mayor since 1987. He has not announced whether he will seek another term. “It’s time and effort,” Hankinson said. “It’s not just a title.”

Hiltonia
Population 390
Hiltonia does not have staggered terms and has no election this year.
Tuesday, Oct. 5 is the last day to register to vote and be eligible to vote in elections on Nov. 3.