Thursday, August 25, 2016

Oconee commission candidate forum scheduled Sept. 15

Three men vying for a vacant seat on the Oconee County Commission
will answer questions for the public in a forum Sept. 15 at the
community center in Oconee County’s Veterans Park.

Ben Bridges, 50, a business manager, Marcus Wiedower, 40, a
construction manager, and Chuck Horton, 61, director of parking services
for Athens-Clarke County, are running for the Post 2 seat left vacant
when John Daniell stepped down to run unopposed for chairman of the
board of commissioners. The election is officially a special election,
but voting will be on Nov. 8, the same day as the general election.

Current chairman Melvin Davis announced earlier this year he would not run again. His term expires at the end of the year.

Also scheduled to appear at the forum is Oconee County School
Superintendent Jason Branch, who will talk about another ballot item,
the special purpose local option sales tax.

The school board is asking voters to extend the 1 percent sales tax
an additional five years to fund school building, infrastructure such as
computer technology and similar one-time expenditures. The school board
has not released a list of projects they would spend the money on, but
Branch said a new elementary school will be part of the mix. School
officials also say they need expanded administrative facilities for the
fast-growing school system.

Organizers of the forum also invited people for and against two
alcohol questions on the ballot — whether to allow Sunday sales by the
drink, and whether to allow package sales of beer and wine. Package
sales of distilled liquor are not legal in Oconee County.

Citizen activists Sarah Bell, Russ Page and Lee Becker organized the
forum. Becker, a UGA journalism professor, also writes about Oconee
County news on his Oconee County Observations blog.

According to Becker’s press release on the forum, the organizers will
record the forum on video and post it on Oconee County Observations.

The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 11, and early voting begins Oct. 17 for the Nov. 8 election.

If none of the three commission candidates gets a majority of the
vote, a runoff would be scheduled Dec. 6 for the two with the highest
vote totals.

Oconee commission candidate forum scheduled Sept. 15
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