Bill Bozarth
Bill Bozarth

Bill Bozarth says running for the state Legislature as an independent makes perfect sense for him.

He’s always thought of himself as a centrist politically. He feels no distinct loyalty to any party. “I’ve always voted for both Republicans and Democrats,” he said.

Besides, it’s practical. In the 54th District in the state House of Representatives, Bozarth admits he probably couldn’t get nominated as a Republican and couldn’t win as a Democrat.

While Beth Beskin and John J. McCloskey prepare for a July 22 runoff for the Republican nomination to face Democrat Bob Giberling in the fall, Bozath is busily gathering signatures on petitions to get his name on the November ballot as an independent.

Beskin collected 49.9 percent of the vote during the May 20 primary, hundredths of a percentage point short of the majority of votes she needed to avoid a runoff. McCloskey received 30 percent of the votes cast in the four-candidate field.

Few candidates run as independents in Georgia, in part because it’s difficult to do so. Bozarth says he needs 1,776 signatures from registered voters who live in the 54th district to win a place on the ballot.

He’s convinced he can do it. He’s already collected more than 1,800 signatures, he said, but he plans to keep going until late June to make sure he has more than enough that will pass muster with election officials.

Bozath and his supporters started circulating petitions months ago and have been collecting signatures door to door and at public Buckhead events such as food truck gatherings, he said.

“It’s not quite as quixotic as it sounds,” he said, “because I do have 25 years of activity in the community. That helps.”

At 71, Bozath, a former executive director of Common Cause, lives in the Garden Hills neighborhood and is a member of the board of Neighborhood Planning Unit B. As a candidate, he says he’s not taking any contributions larger than $250 from a single donor. That means, he said, “I can take positions I feel represent the will of the 54th District.”

For now, he’s gathering signatures and contributions and preparing to launch his campaign.

“It’s like 11 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “You don’t wake up in the morning without thinking, ‘I’ve got to do something today to move the ball forward.’”

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.