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2 Flowery Branch residents qualify for Mills' House seat
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Two new candidates emerged Monday in the race to replace James Mills in the Georgia House of Representatives, and a state representative from Demorest added his name to the list of those wishing to succeed Sen. Jim Butterworth.

In the first day of qualifying for the Nov. 8 special election, Flowery Branch residents Dominic Ottaviano and Paul Wayne Godfrey signed up to seek Mills' seat.

Mills left the seat last week after Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Former Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks also qualified for the state House seat based in South Hall Monday.

Banks and Ottaviano are both Republicans.

Godfrey, who unsuccessfully sought the Hall County Board of Commissioners' Post 1 seat last year, is a Democrat.

He is a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force; he retired as a lieutenant colonel. He also taught for 17 years, including 15 years in the Technical College System of Georgia.

He said he "intends to be a mature, conservative voice with a good heart as well as a good head for District 25 and all of Hall County."

According to the secretary of state's website, Ottaviano is formerly the registered agent of a home health care company. He is also listed as an author of a book on the subject. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

In the race to succeed former Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia, Rep. Rick Austin, R-Demorest, and Republican John Wilkinson, of Toccoa, qualified Monday for the seat.

Wilkinson is a former program manager for the agricultural education program in Georgia and a former state advisor for Future Farmers of America.

Butterworth was appointed adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard in early September.

Both Mills and Butterworth had one year left in their terms before they resigned. Both districts are expected to change in 2011 with new state maps drawn according to census numbers.

Currently, the 50th Senate District includes all of Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Stephens and Towns counties as well as a portion of White County.

In the future, the district is expected to stretch into Hall County if the new maps are approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Qualifying for the two elections continues today.

Other candidates who have announced their intentions to run for Mills' seat are Emory Dunahoo Jr. and Todd Reed, both Oakwood businessmen; Gainesville lawyer Sonny Sykes; and Flowery Branch City Councilman Kris Yardley.

They have until noon Wednesday to state their official intentions with the secretary of state.

No party primaries will be held, though party affiliation will be listed on the ballot. A runoff, if needed, would be held Dec. 6.

Voters must be registered by Oct. 11 to cast ballots in the election.

Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.