COVINGTON -- About a month away from the primary election and two weeks into early voting, another candidate for a vacant seat on the Newton County Board of Education has withdrawn from the race and is throwing his support behind the opposing party.
Tim Walden, a candidate on the Republican ticket for the District 5 seat, announced late Friday that he will not seek election in this year's race.
"After much prayer and soul-searching, I find it needful that I no longer continue in this quest," he said in an e-mail. "I was asked to run and at the time (no one) else was interested."
In early May, another Republican
running for the same seat, Travis Price, withdrew from the race due to health reasons.
With the two Republican candidates withdrawing, Abigail Morgan Coggin, a parent and employee of the Newton County Arts Association, remains as the only Republican running for the District 5 seat.
Sharon Sawyer, a claims specialist at Acuity Brands Lighting, was the only Democrat who qualified for the District 5 seat.
In an e-mail to Sawyer that Walden forwarded to the Citizen, Walden said he would support Sawyer in the race.
"My family and I will support your efforts in the upcoming election," he wrote to her. "I feel you represent my goals better than my opponent and I wish you blessing and know that if people will come out and vote you can win this."
On his candidate Facebook page, Walden asked his supporters to do the same.
"I believe she will not go with politics as usual," he wrote. "I want to represent the system with common sense not political sense which makes no sense."
He said he felt out of place in the race, didn't feel supported by current school board members, lacked finances and name recognition and didn't support incoming Superintendent Gary Mathews for taking a pay increase.
"I could not in good conscience allow myself to (support him)," he said in the e-mail.
Also on his Facebook page on Monday, Walden said that he doesn't have finances or resources like Coggin, who is the daughter of Newton County Commission Chair Kathy Morgan.
"I have never ask (sic) for a donation," he wrote. "As I see it everyone is hurting and needs what they have. I had told my family that if I had won this election I would have done it for the honor of serving and not taken any salary."
He also did not feel he could continue service to his church that he pastors, Calvary Community Church, or continue his volunteer work if he served on the school board, he said in the e-mail.
But in the future, he hopes to seek another office.
"I do plan on future runs in the next election for a county-wide office," he said.
The District 1 and 3 seats on the school board also are up for election this year.
The general primary takes place on July 20. Early voting for the primary will continue through Friday, July 16, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at the Board of Elections Office located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St., Suite 103.
Absentee voting is also under way. Residents may request an absentee ballot by mail by calling the Newton County Board of Elections Office at 770-784-2055 or visiting the Georgia Secretary of State's website at www.sos.georgia.gov.
The General Election is set for Nov. 2.