Four districts

Walker County’s four commission districts are drawn to equalize as much as possible each district’s population with reference to the cities of Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Lookout Mountain.

Walker County has added a new page to its website to educate residents about the transition from a sole commissioner form of government to a board of commissioners.

The webpage, walkercountyga.gov/government/board-transition, features a link to a map showing the commission districts and general information about the process. The page centralizes information that had previously been posted on the site so that it is easier to find.

“We think it’s important for citizens to have easy access to the state act, which explains how the board operates and see how the four districts are set up,” Joe Legge, Walker County public relations director, said. “The page went live on Monday (Oct. 28).”

The Walker County Board of Elections recently mailed approximately 40,000 new voter precincts cards to residents to indicate their voting district, Walker County Director of Elections and Registration Danielle Montgomery said.

Montgomery cautions that those considering a run for the commission must complete a declaration of intent before they start fundraising or spending money on their campaigns.

Forms can be picked up at the elections office on the bottom floor of the courthouse in LaFayette, and some people who plan to run have already completed their declarations of intent, Montgomery said.

The declaration is nonbinding, so potential candidates do not have to qualify in March if they change their minds between now and then, she said.

Party qualifying will be March 2-6, 2020, with primary elections scheduled for May 19 and the general election on Nov. 3.

The inaugural board will take office on Jan. 1, 2021.

The board will consist of four district commissioners and an at-large chairperson. The chairperson presides at meetings and effectively acts as county manager.

District 1 (Rossville) and District 2 (Chickamauga) commissioners will serve an initial two-year term; the District 3 (LaFayette) and District 4 (Lookout Mountain) commissioners and the chairperson will serve four-year terms.

After 2022, all commissioner seats will become four-year terms, meaning terms will be staggered so that two district commissioner positions will be on the ballot every two years.

Other information

♦ Walker County last changed its form of government in 1939, when it transitioned from a board to a sole commissioner.

♦ In the event of a vacancy on the board: A special election will be called to fill the seat if 180+ days remain on the term. If less than 180 days remain on the term, the board shall appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

♦ District commissioners will be paid $12,000 per year.

♦ The chairperson will be paid $100,000 or $500 more than the highest paid elected county officer, whichever is greater. The state dictates the pay of elected officials, based on position and years of service.

♦ During the first board meeting in 2021, the board shall select a vice chairperson and establish a meeting schedule (time, date and place).

♦ Three commissioners constitute a quorum.

♦ The board shall appoint legal counsel, an independent county auditor and a clerk.

♦ The board may change the ending and beginning of the county’s fiscal year. Currently, the county operates on a Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 fiscal calendar.

♦ The board shall publish a statement of the financial condition of ♦ the county twice a year, showing data as of June 30 and Dec. 31.

Catherine Edgemon is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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