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Nonpartisan qualifying ends
Magistrate judge likely ascends to chief post
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Forsyth County News
As qualifying week for nonpartisan candidates came to a close at noon Friday, the only non-incumbent to sign up was Walker Bramblett.
The magistrate judge qualified for the chief magistrate post, currently held by Barbara Cole.
Because of a law passed in 2003, Cole is no longer qualified to hold the position, which now requires three years of service on the Georgia Bar Association.
Though Cole, currently completing her second 4-year term, had more than five years to pass the bar, she joined the association in October.
Bramblett, a bar member since 1981, has also met all other requirements for the position.
"I practiced law in Cumming for 17 years, worked as a full-time attorney for the Board of Commissioners for six years and during the last year and a half to two years of that time, I was the senior staff attorney for the county," he said.
Chief Judge Philip Smith and Judge Russell McClelland both qualified for re-election to their respective state court seats. Neither face opposition.
Independent candidates have until Tuesday to qualify, but Forsyth County Chief Registrar Gary J. Smith said it is unlikely there is enough time remaining to collect the thousands of signatures needed.
The Forsyth County Magistrate Court has jurisdiction in civil cases that involve less than $15,000.
The court issues arrest and search warrants, holds preliminary hearings in criminal cases, has jurisdiction over ordinance violations and has authority to set bonds in certain situations.
Chief magistrate is a nonpartisan elected position that will be decided on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.
Bramblett, 53, has served as a magistrate judge for the past four years. He said he would "like to continue to serve the people of Forsyth County in that capacity, serving as chief magistrate."
Since no one else has qualified for the position, Bramblett is the assumed nominee. No other candidates can qualify.
Though aware of the law and qualifications for the position, Bramblett declined to comment on Cole's position or their relationship.
Attempts to reach Cole for comment were unsuccessful.
A Forsyth native, Bramblett is a graduate of Cumberland School of Law and North Georgia College.
He is a past-president of the Forsyth County Bar Association, a charter class graduate of Leadership Forsyth and has served on the board of directors for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Mental Disability Services Center and Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.