Mayor’s race expected to be on 2023 ballot

Published 8:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2022

With LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton’s recent resignation announcement, election officials and the City of LaGrange are working on plans for a special election to replace the outgoing mayor.

Thornton announced on Tuesday that he will resign as mayor of LaGrange on Nov. 23 to take over as director of governmental relations for the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).

The LaGrange City Council will need to call for a special election to select a replacement for Thornton, but they cannot do so until after he officially steps down, according to Elections Supervisor Andy Harper.

The election will likely be held in March 2023, which would be the earliest opportunity to hold the special election.

Harper said the election would need to be called by December or no later than mid-January in order to have time for qualifying.

For odd years, elections can be held in March, June, September and November. The election could be pushed from March to one of the later dates, but Harper said he does not foresee that happening.

“It’s up to the city when they want to put it on the ballot, but they will probably have to address it soon,” Harper said.

Under older election code, qualifying has to occur sometime between the call for the election and 30 days prior to the election, but it does not take into account that elections officials have to have three weeks of early voting and absentee ballots ready to mail out before then.

The LaGrange City Council —the body responsible for calling the election— has yet to meet since Thornton announced his intention to resign, so no official dates have been set.

City officials expect for the call to be made in December, qualifying to be held in January, and then the election in March.

After Thornton steps down in November, Mayor Pro Tem Willie Edmondson will step in to preside over council meetings until a replacement is elected.