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Eight on ballot for House seat
Special election is May 11
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Forsyth County News
Election calendar

• April 2: Last day to register to vote in special election
• April 26-30: Candidate qualifying for state primary
• May 11: Special election to fill open seats
• June 8: Special election runoff, if needed
• June 21: Last day to register to vote in state primary
• July 20: State primary
• Aug. 10: State primary runoff, if needed
• Sept. 21: Special election to fill vacancies
• Oct. 4: Last day to register to vote in general election
• Nov. 2: General election
• Nov. 30: General election runoff, if needed

Eight candidates signed up with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office this week to complete the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal.

Voters will be able to choose among those candidates on May 11.

Deal, an 18-year Republican representative of Georgia’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, resigned his post on March 21 to focus on his campaign for Georgia governor.

By Wednesday, six Republicans, one Democrat and one Independent candidate paid the qualifying fees to take Deal’s place in the 9th District, which includes most of Forsyth County.   

9th Congressional District

Chris Cates
• Age: 53
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Blairsville
• Political experience: This is Cates’ first campaign for elected office.
• Background: As an interventional cardiologist, Cates most recently was the director of vascular intervention at Emory University Hospital and Emory’s Crawford Long Hospital. He helped open the catheterization laboratory at the former Lanier Park Hospital in Gainesville.

Mike Freeman
• Age: 71
• Party: Democratic
• Residence: Oakwood
• Political experience: This is Freeman’s first campaign for elected office.
• Background: Freeman is the chairman of the Hall County Democrats. He has been an ordained Episcopal minister since 1965. In 1997, Freeman started St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Oakwood. He retired from his position as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2000. Mike and his wife, Pat, have four children and eight grandchildren.

Tom Graves
• Age: 40
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Ranger
• Political experience: Graves was serving his fourth term in the state House of Representatives representing House District 12 until he resigned to participate in the special election.
• Background: Graves is a small business owner. He owns and manages multifamily housing and commercial real estate properties. Graves grew up in White County. He and his wife, Julie, have three children.

Lee Hawkins
• Age: 59
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Gainesville
• Political experience: Hawkins first entered the political arena when he ran for state Senate in 2005, representing all of Hall and portions of Jackson County. He served until March when he resigned to qualify for the special election.
• Background: A native of Hall County and a former president of the Georgia Dental Association, Hawkins has been practicing dentistry in Gainesville since 1978. He and his wife, Sharon, have seven children.

Bert Loftman
• Age: 68
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Pickens County
• Political experience: Loftman ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1998.
• Background: Loftman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but has lived in Pickens County since 1999. Loftman served in the U.S. Army as a doctor in Vietnam. He retired from his neurosurgery medical practice in 2005. He and his wife, Bunny, have been married for 46 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Eugene Moon
• Age: 41
• Party: None
• Residence: Gainesville
• Political experience: This is Moon’s first campaign for elected office.
• Background: Moon is the marketing manager at Lincoln Electric Co. The longtime Gainesville resident and his wife, Rose Camacho Moon, have three daughters.

Bill Stephens
• Age: 53
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Cumming
• Political experience: Stephens spent eight years in the state Senate and was a former floor leader, and was once the spokesman for former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller. He campaigned unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 2006.
• Background: Stephens spent more than 10 years in the banking industry in Gainesville and North Georgia and is currently vice president of Southern Highlands. Stephens is a native of Fannin County, but currently lives in Cumming. He and his wife, Shannon, have five sons.

Steve Tarvin
• Age: 59
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Chickamauga
• Political experience: He resigned from his first term on the Chickamauga City Council to participate in the 9th District special election
• Background: Tarvin is a native of Chickamauga, where he is currently a cattle farmer and the president and chief executive officer of Crystal Springs Print Works, a local textile mill. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and four grandchildren.