Exercise your rights and take the time to vote next month

Published 6:09 pm Friday, October 24, 2014

With Election Day just 10 days away, you will find a sample ballot in today’s edition. While every election, no matter the number of contested races, is important, this election, due to the US Senate race and the Gubernatorial race statewide is vitally important.

Locally, voters will decide between Rusty Davis and Joe Putnal to represent District 4 on the Decatur County Board of Commissioners for the next four years. Either Davis or Putnal will join George Anderson, representing District One, and Pete Stephens, representing District Six, as freshmen commissioners in January.

Both Anderson and Stephens are unopposed in the general election after winning their party’s primary back in May.

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If you live outside of District Four, the only countywide race you will vote on will be the Solicitor-General race. Incumbent Ben Kirbo, who defeated challenger Paul Fryer in the primary, will oppose local attorney Ryan Cleveland.

The southern half of Decatur County will cast a ballot for either Darlene Taylor, the incumbent, or Keith Jenkins to represent the 173rd District in the state House of Representatives. Our other state representative, Jay Powell in the 171st District, is unopposed and will serve four more years.

In the Georgia Senate, Dr. Dean Burke is unopposed and, too, will serve another four years working for us in Atlanta.

You probably haven’t been able to watch television, open your mailbox, or listen to the radio without being overwhelmed with messages, mostly attack ads, on the race between Nathan Deal and Jason Carter in the Governor’s race. Deal is the Republican incumbent while Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, is running as a Democrat.

Lots of money has been spent and lots of accusations and innuendo tossed about in the United States Senate race, as well. With incumbent Saxby Chambliss not seeking reelection, this race is down to two political newcomers in Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn. Both would like you to believe they are political newcomers, but you will recognize both surnames and both are well versed at playing the “political game.”

You will also have the chance to vote for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, State School Superintendent, and a Public Service Commissioner.

Additionally, there are two constitutional amendments and a referendum on the ballot. In my view, the two constitutional amendments are both positive and should be approved.

They are both fairly straight forward. The first amendment, should it be passed, would prohibit the General Assembly from raising the state income tax from the current six-percent tax. Any increase would have to be in the form of another constitutional amendment. This could only be a good thing.

The second amendment would allow the General Assembly to increase the penalties and fees for reckless driving offenses and, then, for the General Assembly to direct those additional fines to a Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund. The fund would provide care and rehabilitation services to Georgians who have received traumatic head or spinal cord injuries. Again, see nothing but positives from approving this amendment.

Unlike the amendments, the statewide referendum is trickier. This referendum asks for an exemption from ad valorem taxes for private property on any Georgia Public College or University used for student housing or parking. This is effectively a tax break for private interests that develop the housing and parking.

The benefit for the public, theoretically, would be the ability to offer the housing and parking at a lower cost to students and other users because of the tax exemption.

So, we have much to decide, locally and statewide, on November 4. Please take time to vote.

It’s not only your right, it’s your duty and responsibility.