News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, July 24, 2012
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- Georgia's primary is only one week away and a pair of commission races are heating up in Columbia County.
In District 2, Lee Benedict is working to take down incumbent Trey Allen. Voices were raised at a recent political event as the pair took jabs at each other.
Local business owner and incumbent Trey Allen is working to keep his District 2 seat.
"We're constantly voted one of the best places in the U.S. to live, and I'd like to continue that momentum," Allen said.
Allen took heat last year for Magnolia Trace, a low-income housing development being built in residential Martinez. Hundreds packed the commission chamber in protest.
"At this point, I don't think that there's any sign that it's going to be anything other than they've promised and several of the residents in the area have told me as much," Allen said.
He says moving forward infrastructure is key for his Martinez district.
"In my district, one of the older and more established districts in the county, we're worried a little more sometimes about maintenance than about the constant growth that the other areas of the county might be experiencing," Allen said. "Things like improving the infrastructure, new water mains, wider water mains."
And that's one thing his opponent special education teacher and Army veteran Benedict agrees with.
"You can't just put something up and then, 'Oops, maybe we shouldn't have.' Let's look at the whole big picture," he said.
It's Benedict's fourth run for his fourth different office. He says this time, he's ready to lead.
"I'm honest, straight forward, conservative, Christian, dedicated. I know how to politic but I'm not a politician. I'm more of a servant-type," Benedict said.
Last week, elections officials announced Benedict is under investigation for taking a photo of his ballot, which is an elections violation and possible misdemeanor.
"I apologize and said I didn't know and I certainly didn't mean any harm or there was no intent to gain an unfair advantage," Benedict said.
Allen says he, along with other commissioners, have lowered taxes about $4 million in his first term. Benedict is pledging to donate 50 percent of his commissioner's salary to the county debt fund.
On Wednesday, News 12 will sit down with candidates for District 3 Charles Allen and Butch Holley.