Fobes could be new Beaufort County councilman next week

Still no school board candidate

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 30, 2013 

Steve Fobes

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While the Beaufort County Council District 10 seat is likely to be filled soon, no candidate has emerged from the same district to serve on the Beaufort County Board of Education.

The filing period for that seat, left vacant when Mike Sanz resigned last month, ends at noon Tuesday. The election is scheduled for Dec. 3.

To appear on the ballot for a school board seat, candidates must submit a petition with signatures from at least 2.5 percent of active registered voters in the district, or 215 people. Candidates can file at the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

A vacant Beaufort County Council seat could be filled as early as next Monday, without a special election, according to election officials.

Republican Steve Fobes is the only candidate to file for the District 10 seat, which represents part of Hilton Head Island and was left vacant when Steve Baer, a Republican, resigned at the end of July.

The race's final filing period -- to enter as a petition candidate -- ends at noon Friday. Those candidates must submit a petition to the county elections board with signatures from at least 5 percent of active registered voters in the district, or 430 people.

If no one files by then, an uncontested Fobes would win the seat by default, and a special election, now scheduled for Dec. 3, is not required to decide the race, according to Marie Smalls, interim director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Uncontested candidates typically are sworn in on the Friday after the scheduled election, which would be Dec. 6, Smalls said. However, state law also allows elections boards to certify an uncontested winner without having to wait until after a scheduled election, county attorney Josh Gruber said.

"If you only have one candidate that can run, there's no point in going through an election, and there's no point in delaying when that candidate can be seated in the office," Gruber said.

After the elections board certifies a winner, the candidate can be sworn into the position the following Monday, Smalls said.

Under state law, the board can certify an election winner if three conditions have been met: Only one candidate has filed to run, no one has filed as a write-in candidate and no one has filed as a petition candidate, Gruber said.

If no one submits the required number of signatures by noon Friday, the board will certify Fobes' win at a special meeting at 1 p.m. Friday at the elections office, Smalls said. That means Fobes could be sworn in as early as next Monday.

The sooner the vacancy is filled, the sooner District 10 residents' voice is returned to council, Fobes said.

Last week, Fobes attended the County Council meeting at the Hilton Head Island library. The retired banker and former president of the Fort Collins, Colo., school board said he was eager to get started and has been meeting with council members to learn about the issues and council procedures.

"I'm trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible," he has said.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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