Monday July 22nd, 2019 6:41PM

Seminar seeks to educate political candidates on Georgia's campaign requirements

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – There’s an old adage that describes when someone makes the decision to run for an elected office: it’s said, “They have decided to toss their hat into the ring.” It’s a whimsical idiom but, as is everything in politics, running for office is not quite that simple.

Those willing to invest the time and energy of getting on the ballot, willing to endure the critical scrutiny of rival candidates and often-biased media, must still find time to deal with the increasing paperwork required by state and federal campaign laws.  Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s can be as critical to a successful campaign as is kissing babies and shaking hands.

With that challenge in mind, and an increased number of first-time office seekers, DeAngelo Hall travels the state offering seminars on behalf of the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission; Hall serves as Information and Training Specialist for the state agency. 

Hall was at the Hall County Government Center Wednesday morning presenting his two hour seminar, breaking down and trying to simplify for a handful of attendees how to comply with state regulations from first indicating that you want to seek office to then establishing a campaign committee, accepting campaign contributions, staying within contribution limits, reporting campaign expenditures, disclosing personal financial information, and a host of other related chores.

Hall came to Gainesville under the auspices of new Hall County Elections Director, Lori Wurtz.  “DeAngelo contacted us and asked about having a seminar in this area of the state to give those candidates in this area…an opportunity to come in and learn about this firsthand.”

Wurtz said she senses an increase in the number of individuals who have never run for office who might want to enter the foray of politics, hence the need to educate the inexperienced.  “We’re seeing an increase in community awareness and community initiative and I believe that (goes) hand-in-hand.” 

Among office seekers/holders in attendance were: Shelly Echols and Mike Parker, candidates for the Hall County Commission; Mark Pettitt, candidate for the Hall County Board of Education; Bill Bush, who indicated he was going to run for the Gainesville City Council; Darla Eden, Hall County Tax Commissioner; and Barbara Brooks, member of the Gainesville City Council.

Candidate Parker is running for District 1 on the Hall County Commission and he said he learned a lot from the seminar.  “It’s always good to know what the laws are.  I wish that we had had this meeting earlier.”

“If you go online there is a booklet and it is step-by-step instructions on what you should do, but you never know what you miss,” Parker explained.  “So it’s good to have this opportunity.”

Candidate Echols said she had been doing the needed “paperwork” herself on this, her first venture into politics.  Echols is running unopposed for the District 4 seat on the Hall County Commission following her victory in the May Republican primary.

She said the seminar, “answered some questions and helped me understand what I need to do from this point forward.”

Valerie Coley isn’t running for office…at the moment…but she decided to attend the seminar because, “There could be something in the future.  You always want to be prepared.”

One thing to remember though, should you decide “to throw your hat in the ring” and run for office: never pass the hat; that could get you in trouble with Hall’s office. 

“You don’t want to pass the hat,” Hall reminded his audience.  “Sometimes people pass the hat, or pass the bucket, and everyone dumps money in there.  You don’t want to do that.  It’s going to be hard to tell who gave what.”

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