If Gainesville residents want to contend for one of six seats on the Gainesville City Council or city school board, now is the time to make it official.
Qualifying packets for the Nov. 8 elections are now available.
The qualifying dates, which are tentatively set for Aug. 29, 30 and 31, will be officially announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Wards 2, 3 and 5 on the City Council and city school board are up for election this year.
The qualifying packets include a ward map, an election calendar with important qualifying dates, information from the city of Gainesville charter, general information on political campaign signs, the secretary of state and Georgia government websites, and forms for candidacy and petitions.
All potential candidates, including incumbents, must fill out a qualifying form and pay a fee. The fees — $605.03 for council candidates and $157.93 for school board candidates — represent 3 percent of each office's salary from last year.
Council candidates must also submit a petition with 50 signatures from their wards with the qualifying form and fee. City Clerk Denise Jordan said she suggests the candidates collect more than 50 signatures in case any of them can't be verified.
If a candidate is found to have less that 50 viable signatures, that candidate's petition can't be returned, Jordan said.
In other words, if a candidate submitted forms on Aug. 29 with 49 signatures, that candidate will have to gather 50 more signatures before Aug. 31.
Potential candidates can also qualify as pauper candidates if they can't afford the fees. They can also apply as write-in candidates, but there are more requirements for those seeking to run under either of these statuses, Jordan said.
Candidates will present their forms, fees and petitions in the conference room at the City Administration Building. By the end of each qualifying day, those forms will be sent to the Hall County Elections Office. The approved candidates will have 15 days from the date they presented their forms to provide a financial disclosure statement. By Sept. 30, all candidates, including incumbents, will have to file a campaign contribution disclosure report.
Councilman Bob Hamrick and school board member Sammy Smith confirmed their intentions to run in the November election.
Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said she was thinking about picking up her qualifying packet, and Mayor Ruth Bruner and school board members Willie Mitchell and Maria Calkins couldn't be reached for comment.
Smith, who represents Ward 5 for the school board, said savvy financial practices and a spirit of community in the school system are his top priorities.
Smith added he wants to remember "the legacy of this school system and its stakeholders in the community of businesses, of citizens, of alumni across the country, of those who share our interests in a progressive school system."
Bruner, who represents Ward 5 on the City Council, said in January she planned to seek re-election.
The mayor's seat will rotate to another ward after the election.
Hamrick represents Ward 2 and said he has already picked up his qualifying packet and received support from the community to run again.
"I have certainly received encouragement from various people across town. I look forward to going out into the community and getting my petition signed to continue to represent the people as I've done previously in an honorable and straightforward manner."
Downtown business owner Debra Harkrider has said she will run for council against Hamrick, but couldn't be reached for comment.
Figueras represents Ward 3 and said she might like to seek another term.
"I've been there 16 years, and I feel like I've got more to offer, so I may go ahead and qualify," she said.
The qualifying packet may be a thick bunch of papers, but Jordan is here to help residents sort out the forms and figures, she said.
She recommends interested residents contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-535-6865 to schedule an appointment if they would like to discuss the qualifying process.