Posted By Kate on May 23, 2012
A Change in the County Leadership is Coming
May 23, 2012
By Kate McDaniel
With the opening of “Qualifying,” the political season is getting fired up – some interesting movement from our local leaders. BOC Chairman Melvin Davis is confident that his candidacy is ready for any challenge. And BOC Commission Chuck Horton is equally surefooted in his bid to replace Chairman Davis. Both qualified before noon today.
We might add that both gentlemen have a good record of serving the county citizens although Chairman Davis has been at it longer. Davis will run a positive campaign on his good record which will be hard to beat and Horton will no doubt announce that he can do better especially at achieving an open government and informing the other Board members of county news before it gets to the media (if you’ve sat in on the BOC meetings twice a month as I have, you will have noticed that seemed to be Horton’s major complaint during his last 4 years of service). There appears to be no hidden closet skeletons for either men but more or less a difference in management style. Davis has been tested; Horton has not.
Gainesville State College professor (English) Sarah Bell fell short of about 100 votes last year in unseating Melvin Davis and was intent on trying a run again this time, but has since changed her mind. It is said that she is contemplating running for Post 1, Jim Luke’s current seat. She had not qualified by 3:00 pm today.
Other competitions are heating up also: Sheriff Scott Berry was the first to qualify this morning and he wants one more term before retiring. He’s been good for law enforcement in the county, but many citizens have expressed a desire to have a change of guard. His opponent is Trey Downs, a resident of Oconee County and a member of the well-known and respected Downs family who have been natives of the county for many years. Downs is currently an employee of police force in Snellville. Downs had not qualified as of noon today.
Another race to watch is the one for the seat that Horton left vacant when he qualified for the BOC Chair seat – Post 4. So far 2 have qualified: Tammy Gilland who ran unsuccessfully 2 years ago for the seat held by Commissioner Margaret Hale; and Mark Saxon, a Veteran whose brother ran unsuccessfully several years ago against former State Rep Bob Smith.
Other qualifiers who have no opponents so far are Wayne Bagley (to re-elect) for the Board of Education; Tom Odom for the vacant Chair of the BOE (current Chair David Weeks announced at the Dr John Jackson retirement reception that he would not run for re-election); Ed Carson, current Coroner; and Angie Watson for Superior Court Clerk (current position). Tax Commissioner Harriette Browning is retiring and Jennifer Riddle who has worked for Browning for many years will vie for that position although she has not qualified yet.
On the State level, qualifying is at the Capitol and will close at noon on Friday as will the local qualifying office. Rep Chuck Williams is running again to hold on to his newly won seat (10 months ago). He is said to be qualifying on Thursday. Williams represents most of Oconee County and a small portion of Clarke County. He has not opponent so far. State Rep Doug McKillip who represents a small portion of Oconee County and most of Clarke County will have an opponent, Attorney Regina Quick who may not have qualified at this point, but she is already holding fundraisers for a campaign.
Oconee citizens have done a pretty good job this time of staying informed of the political scene and encouraging good leaders to run for public office. I am in awe of the heavy responsibilities of public servants. They are forever living under the microscope to perform as promised and do what is right. They are people just like you and I, but maybe a little more of an extrovert and willing to lay their lives open for all to critique. We wish them well and may the best “man” win in each case. We, the voters will hold them all accountable.