This year’s Primary Election is important for voters

Published 8:32 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

If you chose to vote during the early voting period that ended yesterday, thank you.  Thank you for taking seriously one of most important obligations that we have as a member of a democratic society. And, to me, it is an obligation to vote.
For those who haven’t voted, you still have one more day. Tuesday is the primary election day and I am really looking forward to casting my ballot. I have never been a big fan of early voting, always choosing to vote on Election Day.
As with any election and whenever we are making decisions on the people that will lead our community, participation is vitally important. Far too often, apathy is rampant and voter turnout is too low—way too low. Let’s hope this year we have a higher than average turnout.
I strongly disagree with local elections being partisan, with candidates running on a Democratic or Republican ballot. With this being a primary, voters will have to choose a Democratic or Republican ballot Tuesday, even though there might be races on both ballots that interest you.
So, in today’s edition, we have provided a chart of offices and candidates, with political parties included. Our hope is that this will help you make a decision on which ballot you request on Tuesday.
Typically, we would print an actual sample ballot and include it in the issue nearest to the election. But, there are 25 different versions of ballots in Decatur County this year. With Board of Education and County Commission races in only certain districts in the county and only one countywide election, the combinations of the ballots prohibited reproduction.
With three seats, or half, of the Decatur County Commission up for grabs, there is a distinct possibility that we will see new faces in each of those seats in January. With current chairman Frank Loeffler not seeking re-election, it’s a certainty there will be new representation from District Four on the commission. Joe Putnal and Ted Snell will be on the Democratic ballot Tuesday. The winner of that race will face Rusty Davis, running unopposed as a Republican, in November.
In District Two, voters will chose between incumbent Jan Godwin, George Anderson, and Charles Fitzgerald. Godwin was appointed to her current position in January 2013 after Earl Perry resigned due to health concerns. This should be a very competitive race and, because all three are on the Democratic ballot, will be decided on Tuesday.
Incumbent Oliver Sellers is being challenged by Pete Stephens for the District Six commission seat. Again, I think this race will be competitive and will be decided on Tuesday as both candidates are on the Democratic ballot.
The Board of Education races are non-partisan, as all local elections should be. So, regardless of which ballot you choose, you will be able to vote in the Board of Education election, if you live in Districts Two, Four, or Six.
Keith Lyle is running unopposed in District Two and will take his place on the Board of Education in January.
In District Four, incumbent and current chairman Dr. Sydney Cochran,is being challenged by retired educator John McRae. Another retired educator, Dr. Marvin Thomas, is challenging incumbent Jacky Grubbs in the District Six Board of Education race.
Incumbent Ben Kirbo will face local attorney Paul Fryer in the Democratic primary for the office of Solicitor General. The winner will face Republican Ryan Cleveland, who is running unopposed in the primary, in the general election in November.
We will also have the chance to approve the continuation of the SPLOST tax for special projects in Decatur County. I continue to maintain that this tax needs to be approved and continued for another six years. If you are a property owner and vote to not continue the collection of this penny sales tax, then you are most assuredly voting yourself a property tax increase at the same time.
In addition to these races, we will also vote for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State School Superintendent, State Representative, United States Senator, and United States Representative.
I hope to see you at the polls on Tuesday.