An elementary school principal from White County has decided to run for Georgia's newest congressional seat.
Roger Fitzpatrick, a 52-year-old principal at Mossy Creek Elementary, said he's going to seek the 9th District U.S. House seat as an independent.
He is the fifth person to express interest in representing a district encompassing parts or all of 20 counties in Northeast Georgia in the U.S. House.
The other candidates in the race so far are Republicans: Doug Collins and Martha Zoller , both of Gainesville, and Hunter Bicknell of Jefferson.
Clifton McDuffie of Oakwood announced he would run for the seat but has not yet signed up with the Federal Elections Commission to officially begin raising money for his campaign.
Fitzpatrick said Thursday he's working on the required federal paperwork now.
As an independent candidate, he will have to work harder to get his name on the ballot; state law requires that third-party candidates for Congress collect the signatures of 5 percent of the registered voters in the district who were eligible to vote in the previous election before their names can appear on the ballot.
A report released earlier this week by an advisory council on the state's elections rules suggested reducing that number to one based on the number of people who actually voted in the previous presidential election.
State lawmakers have not yet followed up on the proposal.
But Fitzpatrick said as an independent congressman, he can be "a voice of reason" in a world of partisan politics.
"I look at the way Congress functions, and every time you turn on the news, somebody's blaming the other party," he said.
Fitzpatrick said he can show that "because we're Americans we can be civil towards one another."
Fitzpatrick is retiring from his position as principal at the end of the school year after 28 years.
His wife, Linda, is a Christian author. They have two children, Ryan Hulsey and Zach Hulsey, and two grandchildren.