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Sign Them Up: Candidates begin qualifying today for municipal elections

Today begins a two-week period when candidates for the Aug. 24 municipal elections can formally qualify to seek office.

Beginning at 8 a.m., candidates will pick up thick packets of paper that will take more than a few signatures to complete, and the mystery around who will qualify for election is hardly a mystery.

In the mayor’s race, Mike Grayson, Stephen Gutshall, Ben Sherrod and Cecil Williamson have all announced intentions to run. The biggest debate among those candidates has been who is eligible to qualify.

Sherrod said last week that he’ll qualify, even though his residence is not within the city limits. Once that happens, Grayson, Gutshall or Williamson will have the opportunity to challenge Sherrod’s candidacy by filing suit in circuit court.

As for city council races, no one has publicly announced an intention to run against incumbent Thomas Moore in the District 1 race. Moore has confirmed that he’ll seek re-election.

In District 2, incumbent Willard Williams has said he will seek another term to office. Mitchell Congress also has announced he’ll qualify to challenge Williams, and some believe at least one more candidate will enter that race.

District 3 may pose the biggest mystery. Gutshall indicated earlier this year that he would run for the council seat being vacated by Ronnie O’Neal. Since then, of course, Gutshall has announced a mayoral run, leaving no publicly announced candidates for the post. Some believe John Wallace, owner of Wallace Wood, will qualify to run for the seat. If Wallace decides against a council run, speculation is that O’Neal may change his earlier plans of not seeking office and run one more time.

In District 4, it’s unlikely anyone will run against incumbent Woody Collins. No one has publicly announced an intention to challenge the popular councilman, and Collins has said he will seek another term.

In District 5, it is still unclear whether incumbent Mike Baker will seek re-election. Baker has been mum on the issue, and has previously said that he’ll wait until qualifying begins to make a decision. If Baker does decide to seek another term, he’ll face Jack Cooley, a retired insurance agent who announced his intention to run on April 17.