CUMMING -- The race to fill the seat of state Rep. Mark Hamilton is officially under way and has an election date and field of candidates.
On Friday, the state announced that the special election to fill House District 24’s seat would be held on June 16, the same date as a special election to fill an opening on the Cumming City Council.
Hamilton announced on Monday he would be leaving his position and taking a private sector job in Nashville, Tenn. Hamilton was re-elected in 2014, so the elected candidate will sit for the remaining 18 months of the term.
Since then, four candidates have announced their intention to run, including Sheri Gilligan, who ran against Hamilton for the Republican nomination last year; David Van Sant, a local personal injury attorney; Will Kremer, a member of the local Republican Party; and Ethan Underwood, a partner at the law firm of Miles Hansford and Tallant and former chair of the Forsyth County Republican Party.
Gilligan, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserves, worked for the CIA as an intelligence analyst and later taught at Lanier Technical College, ran in 2014 and said she plans to campaign on the same values.
“Last year when I ran, I ran because I wanted to have a new leadership down in the Capital,” Gilligan said. “I saw what went on this year with the budget increase and the tax increase, and I thought we still need new leadership.”
Van Sant, who owns Van Sant Law LLC, said that he has been waiting for this opportunity for years.
“One of the most important things is I want to make sure that we’re ensuring continuing prosperity for the county,” Van Sant said. “I want to make sure that we continue to be a place for homeowners and business and I think there is a definite disconnect between the path we’re on and the path I think we need to be going.”
Kremer’s family owns National Fleet Services, and he served as chair of the state College Republican National Committee, among other positions within the party.
“I want to bring Forsyth County values to Atlanta and to make sure that everything that we do down there, if I’m elected, that it passes the Forsyth County test,” Kremer said. “That means that we’re going to have a real transportation solution. It means that we’re going to make sure that taxes are kept low, and it also means that we’re going to build consensus and stop the divide.”
Underwood was the first candidate to announce his hopes of taking Hamilton’s now vacant seat.
“I’m hopeful that everyone will keep this a clean campaign and that we’ll have a good debate on issues that are affecting the state of Georgia and Forsyth County,” Underwood said. “I think [the election date] is good. That’ll save the tax payers by having the election day the same day as the city. Those people are already going to the polls, and hopefully that will increase turnout.”