If you haven’t already, exercise your right to vote!

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 2, 2012

By now, many of you have already been to the polls, via the early voting opportunities, to cast your vote. If you haven’t voted early, please make sure you take the time on Tuesday to exercise your precious obligation to vote.

Locally, on a countywide basis, the ballot will be slight. Since most races were decided during the July 31 primary, only two races are contested.

Terry Ellis, running on the Republican ticket, will challenge incumbent Russell Smith, running as a Democrat, to assume the District 5 seat on the Decatur County Board of Commissioners.

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Of the six commission seats, at least two will be newly occupied in January. And depending on the results after Tuesday’s general election, an even half of the commission could turn over.

In July, newcomer Dennis Brinson defeated incumbent Dr. Charles Stafford to assume the District 3 seat. Then, in somewhat of a surprise announcement just last month, Dr. Earl Perry informed his fellow commissioners of his intention to resign, due to health issues, from the District 1 position, effective Dec. 31.

Although I haven’t always agreed with Perry, I’ll be the first to say that his departure will leave a void that will be difficult to fill. One quality I admire in Perry in his forthrightness and candor while dealing with county business. Good luck, Earl, as you work to get your health back in order.

The newly-seated commission, with at least one new member, will appoint a new commissioner to fill Perry’s unexpired term from District 1 in January.

You can bet your bottom dollar that jockeying, positioning, strategizing are taking place right now as the remaining members of the commission take on the huge responsibility of filling this seat. In fact, I started hearing names floated about within hours of Perry’s announcement. Some of those names I have heard would be familiar to the citizens of District 1.

I would like to offer a small bit of advice to those who will be making that decision. That is, consider the person who will do the best job of representing the people of District 1, not the person who you think will “be on your side” and “vote with me.” This should not be a political decision, but a decision based on the best person for the job.

Additionally, I want to direct this to the five commissioners who will make this appointment, the county attorney, and the county administrator. Please be aware that the Georgia Open Meetings law is very explicit — any discussion relative to this appointment must be held in an open meeting.

The law says: “Meetings by an agency to discuss or take action on the filling of a vacancy in the membership of the agency itself shall at times be open to the public.”

Just do the right thing, in the open, and keep politics out of the equation.