Candidates in Columbia County election pitch plans

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 11pm / Monday, April 21, 2014

Columbia County, Ga. (WRDW) -- Folks in Columbia County will have a chance to vote in a new commissioner, and decide if they want to keep their current chairman, and school board member. With the election less than a month away some say now is the time to figure out who you support.

"Come out... Meet, see, and listen to the candidates," that's why Edward Saxon, an undecided voter, came to a forum where 6 men are trying to win votes for the May 20th election.

"The chamber does not endorse any candidates," said Tammy Shepherd.

Before Shepherd's group brought in the candidates looking to lead Columbia County, she talked to News 12 about why this local election should matter to everyone.

"Taxes, regulations, infrastructure, growth," she said.

People will be facing the issues all over the CSRA, but especially in Columbia County, with the new Cyber Command coming to Fort Gordon.

"Can you talk to us about your plans to manage the future growth that is expected for our county," was the first question asked to the chairman candidates.

Candidate, Jim Bartley, answered the question by supporting the Development Authority head, but says term limits would help to give others in the county a chance to serve, and then went after his opponent.

"The chairman appoints all the board members now, but I think the other commissioners should have appointments," he said.

Something the current chair says isn't accurate.

"All commissioners do have appointments, on all county boards. Each district has an appointment to the committee. Also there is a four year limit on serving," said Chairman, Ron Cross.

District 1 candidates were asked the same questions. Hafeez Chaudhry, says T-SPLOST money can pay for growth; while Doug Duncan says the projections he see won't be covered just with T-SPLOST.

The school board candidates were the last ones to talk, but Shepherd says they can't be over looked.

"They are developing a future work force. So, it is very important," she told News 12.

The hour and a half forum must have been a success, because now an undecided voter is closer to his pick.

"Tonight helps me begin the process," said Saxson.

While the school board candidates did not draw as much attention , they did disagree on how to fund charter schools. Staten Heard says charter schools should be funded by private dollars. Mike Sleeper says charter schools have been successful, but didn't really say how it should be paid for.

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