Two big votes set Tues.
board of commissioners change on tap
A rare opportunity will be on tap next
Tuesday as Jackson County voters decide the future of their county's
government. A complete overhaul in the county's government structure
is on the ballot with a proposal to change from a three-member
board of commissioners with a full-time elected chairman to a
five-member, all part-time BOC with a hired county manager.
The county government vote will appear on the ballot in two parts:
The first part will be a simple "YES" or "NO"
question on whether to change the county government to a five-member
board. The second part will have two options for electing representatives
from four districts (the chairman is elected countywide in both
options): Option One would mandate that representatives live
in a particular district, but be voted on countywide. Option
Two would mandate that representatives live in a particular district
and be voted on only by citizens living in that district.
The referendum comes after Rep. Scott Tolbert introduced legislation
during the General Assembly for the government change. Sen. Eddie
Madden amended the bill to include the option on representation
and made some other wording changes.
Created in 1901, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners has
been amended numerous times over the years, but no comprehensive
change has been proposed until this year. Several of the existing
laws governing the BOC are in conflict with each other and the
issue of how the current three commissioners share power is left
Changing to a five-member board has long been discussed in Jackson
County, but the political dynamics never took previous efforts
very far. The Tolbert-Madden legislation is the first time the
issue has come before voters in the form of a referendum.
Supporters of the bill believe it would fix several problems:
First, it would take the day-to-day management of county government
out of the hands of an elected chairman and put it in the hands
of a professional county manager. The bill created a strong county
manager government which outlines the specific duties of the
manager and the board. Critics of the existing county government
system say it is impossible to find candidates that have the
qualifications to be a full-time CEO of county government.
Supporters also say the bill would make the BOC more representative
by the addition of two more members and by mandating the creation
of four districts. But opinions vary on how representatives of
those districts should be elected. Some believe that since the
county government is broad and sets tax rates, every member should
answer to all voters, hence Option One. But others believe that
people running in a district should be voted on only by those
living in the district and point to the county board of education
and other government bodies that work on the same principal as
outlined in Option Two.
The only organized effort on the bill has come from the Jackson
County Republican Party, which has endorsed the change in government
and the Option Two proposal.
County Government Referendum:
What It Does
· Creates a five-member board of commissioners - four
elected from districts with the chairman elected countywide.
All board members are part-time. District members must be 21
years old, the chairman 25 years old. District members shall
be paid $10,000 per year, the chairman $15,000 per year. All
must have lived in Jackson County 12 months.
· The chairman can't vote unless there is a tie or unless
his vote is needed to make a quorum. A vice chairman is elected
by the board to serve when the chairman is absent.
· Says that the board must meet at least once per month.
· All purchases over $1,000 have to be bid by the BOC.
· Mandates that the board hire a county manager. The person
hired must have a degree in public administration or five years
experience as a city or county manager. The manager's salary
is set by the BOC and he serves at the pleasure of the board.
The county manager cannot also hold any elective office.
· The county manager's powers are to administer the affairs
of the county; to hire and fire all department heads and staff
employees except the county attorney, county auditor and those
serving on various county-appointed boards; to develop the county
budget recommendations; and to oversee all other day-to-day operations
of the county government.
· The four district board members would either be elected
countywide, or only in their individual districts depending on
the outcome of the balloting. Option One provides for a countywide
vote while Option Two provides for a district vote only.
Five city races
on tap for Tuesday
BY ANGELA GARY
Three incumbent council members and one board of education member
will face opposition in the Nov. 2 election. Races are set for
the Hoschton and Jefferson city councils and the Commerce Board
of Education. In Jefferson, voters will also cast their ballot
on the sale of liquor by the drink, a move seen by some as the
way to bring more upscale restaurants to the city.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
In Hoschton, Post 4 incumbent David Healan and Post 6 incumbent
Glenn Evans are both facing challengers. Rosemary Bagwell is
running against Healan for the Post 4 seat and Gennoria Ree Bridgeman
is pitted against Evans for the Post 6 seat. In Post 5, incumbent
Ronald Holcomb is not seeking re-election. Those vying for that
seat are Paul Turman and Sandy Fee Romer.
Post 4-David Healan and Rosemary Bagwell
Post 5-Paul Turman and Sandie Fee Romer
Post 6-Glenn Evans and Genoria Ree Bridgeman.
In Jefferson, incumbent Jack Seabolt will face Jim Joiner for
the Post 5 council seat. Incumbent Steve Kinney was the only
one to qualify for Post 1 and incumbent C.D. Kidd III was the
only one to qualify for the Post 5 seat.
Post 1-Steve Kinney
Post 3-C.D. Kidd III
Post 5-Jack Seabolt and Jim Joiner
Jefferson voters will be also be asked to approve a referendum
on the sale of liquor by the drink. This issue failed by only
10 votes in July 1998.
As for the Commerce BOE, incumbent Lanny Pope will face challenger
Kimberly Kamp. The incumbents were the only ones to qualify for
the other two seats up for re-election. They include: Bill Davis,
District 3, and Steve Perry, District 4.