Colquitt goes for TSPLOST
MOULTRIE — Colquitt County voters approved a penny sales tax for transportation by a nearly 2 to 1 margin on Tuesday, allowing for a stream of money that will be used for road resurfacing and airport runway improvements.
A little more than 9 percent of registered voters turned out, with 1,220, or 65.84 percent, voting yes, and 633 no votes cast.
The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax was the only countywide question on the ballot. There were mayor’s races in Berlin and Doerun and a Moultrie City County race for the District 1 Post 2 seat.
In a close race, a Moultrie pastor has narrowly defeated a two-term Moultrie city councilwoman. The Rev. Cornelius Ponder III received 145 votes to Susie Magwood-Thomas’s 136 during Tuesday’s election to win the District 1 Post 2 council seat. The seat represents all of northwest Moultrie and a portion of southwest. Magwood-Thomas was first elected to the post in 2009.
In Doerun, Mike Campbell overcame Larry Brady, 93-42, to become the town’s mayor. The seat has been vacant since Mayor George Saunders died June 20.
In Berlin, incumbent Mayor Mark Bridwell defeated Reggie Merritt, 43 votes to 13, to retain his seat.
The transportation sales tax, which will run for five years, was the second 1 percent sales tax approved this year by county voters. In March they voted to extend for six years an existing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that funds projects in the county and its municipalities.
The transportation tax, likewise, will fund projects in the cities and on county-maintained roadways.
County officials expect the estimated $15 million share it will receive to allow for resurfacing some 170 miles of roads.
Moultrie’s expected share is estimated at $7.4 million, followed by Norman Park at $511,658 and Doerun at $407,431. The cities of Berlin, Funston and Ellenton are expected to receive $290,045, $236,352, and $147,917, respectively.
Of the remainder, $750,000 is earmarked for Moultrie Municipal Airport improvements, $550,000 for the Parks and Recreation Authority and $250,000 for the Colquitt County Hospital Authority, which will be used for resurfacing the parking facilities at the hospital.
Some $5 million of the county’s share will go toward mowing and chemical spray application along roadways. Shifting that money from the general fund is expected to allow the county to avoid increasing property taxes, officials have said.
Thomas County approves SPLOST
THOMASVILLE — Thomas County voters overwhelmingly approved an extension of the special purpose local option sales tax Tuesday.
SPLOST was approved by a 3,014-1,045 margin, capturing 74.3 percent of the votes.
The penny tax is expected to generate $42 million in revenue, The seven municipalities and the county would split the tax’s proceeds, based on population.
“I’m relieved to get this behind us,” said Thomas County Commission Chairman Ken Hickey. “That’s one thing we have to worry about for our future plans. It is very much needed for the maintenance of our road system and other projects.”
In other elections on the ballots Tuesday night, voters in Boston approved sales of alcohol by the drink and by the package on Sunday.
Meigs Mayor Cheryl Walters retained her seat, garnering more than 60 percent of ballots cast. Boston Mayor Danny Groover also kept his post, fending off challenger Richard Reynolds, and Coolidge Mayor Diane Causey also won re-election.
Political newcomer David Hufstetler unseated incumbent District 2 Thomasville City Council member Max Beverly with 56 percent of the vote in the Tuesday general election.
Hufstetler — on his 64th birthday — received 1,026 votes to 797 for Beverly, who was seeking a fourth term.
"I feel good and relieved," Hufstetler said, when it appeared he was the victor.
Don Sims, incumbent at-large council member, received 1,081 votes to 1,174 for challenger Todd Mobley. Also seeking the at-large post was Matt Kirkley, who garnered 258 votes.
In Cairo, two new faces will be on the City Council in January.
Booker Gainor and DeMario Byrden were elected following Tuesday's general election in Cairo.
Gainor beat Hansell Bearden with 738 votes for mayor. Hansell garnered 549 votes. Byrden unseated long-time District 2 council member Ernest Cloud Jr. with 151 votes to Cloud's 133 votes.
Gainor, who resigned from his job to seek election, said he felt doing so was the "best decision" he made in his life.
In the special election for Grady County's District 1 seat, a three-way runoff is possible. Richard Jordan garnered 179 votes and candidates June Duke Knight and Earle Jeter got 131 votes each. One provisional vote remains to determine if the tie will be broken. If the tie is not broken, the run-off is scheduled for Dec. 5.
In the Whigham City Council election, which was for five at-large seats, David Gainous received the most votes at 52. Incumbents Jim Sellers and Joel Singletary were reelected, each garnering 46 votes. Dusty Brown and Ashley Lee King also were elected with 43 votes each.
TIFT SPLOST passes, Ehlers wins District 1
TIFTON — The unofficial and incomplete results from the Tift County Nov. 2017 local election are in.
SPLOST passed by roughly 86 percent with 820 votes in favor and 131 opposed.
For the Tifton city council elections, incumbent Wes Ehlers won the election for District 1 by 63 votes.
His total of 119 votes was roughly 68 percent of the total votes cast.
His opponent, Paul Boyd, garnered 56 votes.
"I am extremely honored to represent District 1 for another four years," said Ehlers. "I am sincerely grateful for the support I received during this campaign from my family, friends, and neighbors.
"This council has a lot of work ahead of us and I am eager to get started. The next four years will have a tremendous positive impact on the future of our city with negotiating Service Delivery, LOST and planning SPLOST projects.
"I would also like to congratulate Mr. Boyd on running a clean campaign and would look forward to hearing ideas he may have to improve our district and City."
Ehlers first won his seat in 2013 and will be serving his second term.
Johnny Terrell Jr. ran for District 3’s seat unopposed, winning him the seat with 27 votes, which was 100 percent of the votes cast.
Terrell first won the seat in 2009 and will be entering his third term.
Omega voters decided to allow Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine, according to election officials.
Valdosta incumbent wins, city council runoff expected
VALDOSTA — It appears an incumbent is staying in office, and at least one runoff election will take place after the Lowndes County municipal elections Tuesday evening.
Preliminary results showed Eric Howard leading the vote tally in City Council District 4 with 115 votes or 44.57 percent of the vote. However, to win the seat outright a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one vote. Howard appears to be poised to go into a runoff election against either Kevin Bussey or Angela Penn on Dec. 5.
The race for who will face Howard in a runoff was too close to call at press time. Bussey garnered 71 votes or 27.52 percent. Penn received 72 votes or 27.91 percent.
For City Council District 6, Andy Gibbs came out on top by 251 votes or 55.29 percent. Ron Borders got 164 votes or 36.12 percent of the vote. Felix Vayner came in with 39 votes or 8.59 percent of the vote.
Sandra J. Tooley appears to have won her reelection bid for Valdosta City Council District 2 outright with 168 votes or 54.9 percent of the votes.
Vernotis Williams received 138 votes or 45.1 percent of the votes.
Provisional ballots must still be tallied and the final authorized count is not expected until Friday morning, Nov. 10, according to the Lowndes County Board of Elections.
Leading candidates agreed voter turnout for the municipal election was disappointing.
“I am elated, so happy and excited,” Tooley said. “So, hopefully I can work towards public transportation, public safety and street improvement.
"I would have hoped more citizens got involved with voting. I am thankful to all of those who did come out and vote and supported me," she said. "I hope we can move forward and make Valdosta a better place.”
Howard said he was thinking positively about the provisional ballots turning in his favor, pushing him over the top of the 50 percent plus one threshold. He said he was happy about winning the most votes but was disappointed with the low turnout. He said he plans to go into the community and thank everyone who supported him.
"If it goes to a runoff, we're still looking to win," Howard said.
Gibbs said he was excited about the unofficial votes, but didn't want to get too excited until the official results are announced. He said he hopes the numbers stay in his favor and looks forward to meeting with other council members.
"Once that's done, we can start figuring out what comes next," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said he was a little disheartened by the low turnout overall, but happy with those who turned out for him.
"I would have liked to see more community involvement. Unfortunately, not everyone turned out to vote," Gibbs said.
CITY OF VALDOSTA SCHOOL BOARD
All candidates were unopposed in their respective races.
Tyra Howard received 227 complimentary votes in the Valdosta School District 4 race.
Trey Sherwood received complimentary votes in the Valdosta School District 5 race.
Tad Moseley received 393 complimentary votes in the Valdosta School District 6 race.
Two seats were available on the Lake Park City Council.
Carl Taylor appears to have won a seat in the Lake Park City Council race with 101 votes or 46.33 percent of the votes.
Thomas D. Barr appears to have won a seat in the Lake Park City Council race with 74 votes or 33.94 percent of the votes.
Sharon T. Fountain received 43 votes or 19.72 percent of the votes.
Jeff Guilliams appears to have won the Dasher City Council Post 1 race with 73 votes or 58.4 percent of the votes.
Mike Hamm received 22 votes or 17.6 percent of the votes. Chris Webb received 30 votes or 24 percent of the votes.
Donald J. Bryan received 94 complimentary votes for the Dasher City Council Post 2 race.
G.R. Holton received 80 complimentary votes for the Dasher City mayor race.
The unofficial and incomplete results of the city elections came in with 824 total ballots counted, representing about 8.64 percent of eligible registered voters. All results are subject to change when mail-in and provisional ballots are tabulated, and the election is certified by the election commission, expected Friday.
Parham-Copelan excited to be Milledgeville's next mayor
MILLEDGEVILLE — Mary Parham-Copelan said her quest to become Milledgeville’s next mayor was a bit like the Biblical story of David and Goliath.
Parham-Copelan, who had never sought political office, defeated Milledgeville Mayor Gary L. Thrower by a mere six votes to become the winner.
Parham-Copelan, born and raised in Milledgeville, garnered 833 votes to Thrower’s 827 votes, according to unofficial election returns released by Baldwin County Elections Superintendent Todd Blackwell.
It wasn’t immediately known Tuesday night whether Thrower might qualify for a recount.
Blackwell, who also serves as judge of Baldwin County Probate Court, said Thrower would have to be within a 1 percent margin in order to ask for a recount.
“That’s something we just don’t know for sure yet,” Blackwell told The Union-Recorder Tuesday night.
He said there was only one provisional ballot remaining to be counted.
It will be counted this morning in the Baldwin County Registrar’s Office.
Thrower admitted he was disappointed because he really wanted to continue serving the people of Milledgeville as mayor.
“I think we’re back where we were two years ago with someone whose never done it before,” Thrower said. “She’s going to have to learn the best she can, because I was that person two years ago. I’m going to do everything in my power to help her get started on the right foot, and support her the best that I can.”
The city’s newest mayor said she will do everything within her power to bring change to the local community.
“Milledgeville wanted a change and they got it,” Parham-Copelan said. “They got out and worked and worked and made the change possible. I want to thank everybody in Milledgeville for getting out and making your vote count. We're fixing to change Milledgeville. That’s what you all wanted and that’s what we’re going to do.”
In the only contested city council race, incumbent City Alderman Richard “Boo” Mullins Jr. defeated Harry E. Keim to win re-election to another four-year term as the District 5 city council member.
Mullins garnered a total of 254 votes to Keim’s 101 votes.
In the only contested race for the Georgia Military College Board of Trustees, Mike D. Cobb defeated Calvin Hill. Cobb received a total of 435 votes, while Hill collected a total of 189 votes.
Carpenter wins state House District 4 seat without runoff
DALTON, Ga. — Kasey Carpenter heads to Atlanta in January as the next representative from state House District 4.
"I've got a lot of homework to do over the next few weeks, but I'm really looking forward to it," Carpenter, a Dalton native, said Tuesday night. "I thank my opponents for running a good race. We all ran a clean campaign and worked hard and gave the people some good choices. The people of Dalton and Whitfield County can be proud they had this group of people want to represent them."
Carpenter, owner of Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Pizza and Brewing Co., finished first in a four-way race with 1,927 votes (53.87 percent) over Eddie Caldwell with 704 votes (19.68 percent), Peter Pociask with 516 votes (14.43 percent) and Beau Patton with 426 votes (11.91 percent). Carpenter, Caldwell and Patton are Republicans while Pociask is a Democrat.
The seat became open when Republican Bruce Broadrick stepped down in September for health reasons. Carpenter will serve the remainder of Broadrick's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2018. District 4 includes the city of Dalton and some surrounding Whitfield County precincts.
"I think to go into a four-way race like this and to avoid a runoff shows the support we had across the district, and I really thank the voters for coming out and voting for me," Carpenter said.
Caldwell said the results were "a little disappointing."
"We worked hard. But I want to congratulate Kasey. He ran a great race," Caldwell said.
Patton also congratulated Carpenter.
"I hope he has a successful term," Patton said. "I'm sure he'll represent the district well."
Pociask said he thought he did "really well."
"We set out on a shoe-string budget on a really tight timeline and we showed that a Democrat can be viable here in Dalton," he said. "And Kasey Carpenter is a good man. He'll be good for Dalton and Whitfield County."
This was Carpenter's second attempt at the District 4 seat. In May 2016, Broadrick defeated Carpenter in the Republican primary in a tight race as Broadrick had 2,268 votes (54.4 percent) and Carpenter finished with 1,898 votes (45.6 percent). Since there was no Democratic candidate, Broadrick won the seat.
Dalton voters approve $50 million bond package to fund new school
DALTON, Ga. — Interim Dalton Public Schools Superintendent Don Amonett says school officials can now begin working with architects on the design for a new sixth- and seventh-grade school, following Tuesday's approval by voters of a $50 million bond package that will fund the construction of that school.
"We've done the testing for the property (just across the North Bypass from Dalton Middle School), but we couldn't proceed beyond that until the vote on the bonds," Amonett said.
The school is being built to relieve overcrowding at Dalton High School and Dalton Middle School. Voters approved the package by 1,489 votes (52.37 percent) to 1,354 votes (47.63 percent). The vote creates a new property tax of at least .4 mill which could rise to up to .8 mill to pay off the bonds.
"I'm pleased," said Dalton Board of Education Chairman Rick Fromm. "We are grateful for the opportunity to move the district forward."
Amonett said the approval by the voters starts movement forward on two fronts. The first is on the design of the school.
"We notify the architect (today) that we are ready to move forward with the design process," he said. "There's a few things we have to do internally first, so it will probably be Monday before we actually meet with the architect."
The second front is the actual process of issuing the bonds.
"That's a complicated process with a lot of steps," Amonett said. "It will probably be about six months before the bonds are actually issued."
In August, the school system received a donation of 38.1 acres across the North Bypass from Dalton Middle School from Hammond Creek Capital for the new school. That donation is contingent on the school system buying another 25 acres for the school from Hammond Creek Capital.
The total cost of the bond issue including interest will range from about $80 million to $100 million to be paid over 30 years. Only interest would be paid during the first five years to minimize property tax increases. When the 2018 Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) expires in 2022, offiicals hope additional ESPLOSTs will be approved to help pay interest and the principal.