Voting will open Monday for two of Madison County’s contested local races in 2014.
Early voting for the May 20 non-partisan elections begins April 28 in the county registrar’s office. County residents will determine if they want David Patton or Greg Sartain to fill the seat of Harry Rice, who is retiring as the county’s magistrate judge at the end of the year. Voters in District 2 will also decide if they want Arlen Johnson to remain their representative on the school board or if they prefer challenger Angie McGinnis.
The contested local race for the board of commissioners’ District 5 seat won’t be determined until the November general elections when incumbent Republican Jim Escoe is challenged by Clyde Verhine. A special election for tax commissioner will be held in November. Louise Watson, who has held the post for 29 years, recently announced her retirement, effective May 31. Qualifying for that position has yet to take place
Here’s a look at the four candidates who will be on ballots beginning Monday:
David Patton is a lifelong resident of Madison County and a familiar face in law enforcement.
He and wife Kim live in Colbert and have two children, Jennifer and DJ (David Jr.).
He graduated (as part of a dual enrollment) from Madison County High School and from Athens Technical College in 1983.
Patton said his first taste of public service came in 1984 when he joined the Colbert Volunteer Fire Department, where he served for 14 years.
“I enjoyed helping people and got to know the county deputies and (then) Colbert police chief Christian,” he said.
He entered law enforcement in 1988, first serving as Colbert police chief and later joining the sheriff’s office in 1993.
“I have 25 plus years in law enforcement and am familiar with the court system in the county,” Patton said. “I never, ever imagined running for public office, but when I heard Judge (Harry) Rice planned to retire, the idea came to me and just wouldn’t leave me alone. I just felt it was something I needed to do.”
Besides his experience as a fireman and police officer, Patton was among the first group of First Responders in the county and started the sheriff’s office DARE program under sheriff Clayton Lowe, continuing the program as CHAMPS under sheriff Kip Thomas. He is also the department’s training officer.
“Public service has been my life, helping people is what I enjoy doing,” Patton said.
He said he will bring his experience in dealing with law enforcement and with citizens to the magistrate office.
“The law is black and white, but people aren’t,” Patton said. “Sometimes you just have to stop and listen to the situation.”
Patton is also heavily involved in the community. He and brother Dwayne spearhead the yearly motorcycle toy ride, which raises money for Christmas toys for the county food bank. He is an active member of Colbert Baptist Church, serving in many capacities, including as deacon and Sunday School teacher.
Greg Sartain, of Danielsville, is a lifelong resident of Madison County and the son of Max and Betty Sartain.
He and his wife Karen have been married for 20 years and and have two sons, Aaron, 18, and Adam, 17.
Sartain was an honor graduate of Madison County High School and received an associate degree from Young Harris College and a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University, where his major was political science with a focus on law.
“Even as a college student, I had a keen interest in public service as well as the law,” Sartain said.
For the past 15 years he has been an outside salesperson in the building supply industry.
“This has allowed me to work with people from all walks of life, which I feel is an important quality in an elected official,” he said. “I have contributed to the local community by working with the Boy Scouts, conservation groups, school parent committees, and have coached more youth sports teams than I can recall.”
Sartain said he feels the biggest attribute he would bring to the magistrate judge position is common sense.
“I have a great deal of common sense, which I would use to protect and serve the law abiding citizens of Madison County,” he said. “I have always wanted to become a public servant and combining that with my interest in the duties of magistrate court, I feel I am the right person for the job. If elected, I promise to serve faithfully and with integrity and to be as accessible as possible during office hours to better serve the public.”
Arlen Johnson has served on the board of education for the past 12 years and graduated from MCHS. He and his wife, Karla, have three sons: Trey (2001 MCHS grad), Tyler (2005 MCHS grad) and Tanner (2011 MCHS grad). They also have one granddaughter, 1-year-old Layla.
And Johnson himself is a student again — he is working toward an accounting degree at Athens Technical College.
“Since all three of my sons were enrolled in the school system, I wanted to be involved in school and school organizations,” Johnson said. “Now I take pride in watching friends’ and neighbors’ children go through our system.”
Johnson has a 34-year background in electrical sales and installation and said he feels his construction background has benefitted the school system during the construction and improvement projects on all seven campuses.
“We as a board have been able to advance the educational opportunities available to the students of the county and given them modern facilities while navigating through some very stressful times,” he said.
Johnson said he would like to continue to serve on the board to see the current projects through to the end and to continue to contribute to the community through his service on the board.
“I would like to thank the district for their support over the years, and I take pride in this year particularly, because this graduating class was in the first grade when I first took office,” Johnson said.
Angie McGinnis is a lifelong resident of Madison County.
After graduating from Madison County High School, she became a licensed practical nurse through the nursing program at Athens Tech.
She has worked for two pediatricians in the Athens Regional Physicians Group as a nurse and office manager for the past 15 years.
McGinnis and her family live on Macedonia Church Road where they raise commercial and Hereford cattle and are members of the Georgia Hereford Association, where McGinnis serves on the board.
She said she always enjoyed working with and for the benefit of children and currently serves as a third – sixth grade Sunday School teacher at Friendship Baptist Church and works in the AWANA children’s program there.
She also serves on the Ila Elementary School Governance Committee, is FFA Alumni president and is a Comer Lions Club member.
In addition, she works with Madison County emergency services as a First Responder.
“I have worked with children pretty much all my life in various groups and settings,” she said. “Since serving on the Ila School Governance Committee, I have seen how great our schools are doing in the state and nation and I feel like I can be a advocate for parents to help them get a better understanding of how our schools work. I also want to be an advocate for our school employees because their job is never done, whether it is in the classroom or on the playground – there is always room for improvement. State employees have endured some rough times over the last few years, with no pay raises, so we need to seek ways to improve morale so our employees will be a lot happier.”
McGinnis said her goals are to encourage students to become better, more productive citizens and to be accessible to students, parents, and employees of the school system at all times.
“There maybe be times they need to talk to someone to discuss things going on that might be happening with their children and I would like to direct them in the right way to get the issues resolved,” she said. “If I am elected, I promise to be accessible for our all school events such as fundraisers, graduations and anything that their school might need a hand in doing. I have a long history of working with children and I hope my district will give me the opportunity to work for them. All my life I have been raised to work hard and never turn anybody away and I plan on doing just that for my district.”
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