A room full of interested voters met the Pickens County candidates at Chattahoochee Tech last night as they presented their views on various topics affecting the positions they’re seeking. The Pickens County Chamber of Commerce hosted the contenders who faced questions from the pre-selected as well as the audience.
County Commission Post 1, School Board Posts 2 and 5 and State Representative District 11 candidates were all on-hand and answered both seriously and at times light-heartedly, being respectful of their opponents and the election process which is a rarity in these politically-charged times.
The most widely divided gulf between two candidates was obvious in the first appearance of Democrat Charles Hendrix who is challenging District 11 Representative Rick Jasperse. House Bill 60, or the gun bill, was a topic of contention between the two although Hendrix touched on numerous topics to which he objects. Another subject of disagreement was common core with Jasperse holding his ground that state standards will have to be met regardless while Hendrix stated his support. Hendrix opined that if Georgia is the only state rejecting the criteria students will be unable to compete in other areas of the country.
In the commissioner’s race, incumbent Jerry Barnes stated the strides made in the last few years is turning the county around fiscally. Candidate Bart Connelly agreed that improvements are being made but building the contingency fund so that TAN (tax anticipation notes) can be phased out is his ultimate goal. They agreed that economic development is key to the future but building the infrastructure to avoid congestion is a tricky process.
In the school board races Post 2 incumbent Wendy Lowe stated the most important issues facing the schools is quality education and retention of good employees while Post 5 holder Dan Fincher cited finances and technology. Challengers Delane Lewis and Daniel Bell stated teacher morale is the largest problem currently in the system.
“I was not expecting to have such a magnitude of openness from people expressing low teacher morale and people leaving, people resigning; people talking of leaving and resigning…Everything else is being overwhelmed by this concern,”
As time ran short, Chamber President Denise Duncan expressed her regret that not all questions could be presented at the forum but the Chamber will be sending the questions to the candidates for answers. Those answers will be made available to the public through the Chamber. To obtain that information, please contact the Chamber at 706-692-5600.
To see the debate and each question posed as well as the candidates responses, please see the following video: