November 3, 2013

City elections Tuesday

Advance voting turnout ‘sad’

Judging from early voting results, local municipal elections aren’t generating much interest.

As of Friday afternoon, just seven people had voted in Cohutta, 23 in Varnell and 460 in Dalton. By comparison, Cohutta has 405 registered voters, Varnell has 983 and Dalton has 13,369, so the percentage of registered voters who voted early was in the low single digits in all three cities.

“It’s sad,” said Whitfield County Registrar Mary Hammontree, who said she is hoping for a larger turnout on Tuesday, Election Day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters face at least one contested race in all three cities.

• Dalton: There are two contested races, one for City Council and one for Dalton Board of Education, as well as one uncontested race for each body.

Incumbent Gary Crews faces a challenge from J.K. Ware for the Ward 4 seat on the City Council. Tate O’Gwin is unopposed for Ward 2.

Both Crews and Ware have made economic development one of the key issues in their campaigns. Crews has promised to help continue the City Council’s efforts to cut the property tax and make the city a more attractive place for businesses to locate and families to live. Ware has said that diversifying Dalton’s economy will be one of his goals.

On the school board, Steve Laird and Pablo Perez are seeking the seat being vacated by Mark Orr, who is not running for re-election this year. Sherwood Jones III is running unopposed for the seat currently held by Steve Williams, who is also not seeking re-election.

• Cohutta: Greg Fowler, Wesley Mahan and incumbent Ben Manis are seeking two open seats on the City Council. The top two vote-getters will take those seats.

City Council member Ronald Shinnick is running unopposed for mayor. Long-time Mayor Don Henderson did not seek re-election this year.

• Varnell: Anthony N. Hulsey faces former City Council member David Owens for mayor, and Jan Pourquoi faces off with Michael Willocks for City Council Seat 2.

Owens has said he would work towards phasing out Varnell’s property tax. Hulsey has said the city needs to take a break from the large building projects it has done during the past five years and work to get its spending under control.

Pourquoi has also made the city budget one of the major issues in his campaign, saying the city needs to build a reserve fund and stop adding to its debt. Willocks said he doesn’t believe the budget is in as bad a shape as some other candidates, but he said he also wants to build a financial reserve. He said he would like to continue to make the city a more attractive place.

Ashlee N. Godfrey is running unopposed for Seat 1 on the council and Nancy Nelson is unopposed for Seat 5.

The cities of Chatsworth and Eton do not have any contested elections this year.

Voters will need to bring an accepted form of valid photo ID. These include a Georgia driver’s license, even if expired; any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a free Voter ID card issued by a county registrar’s office or the Department of Driver Services; a valid passport; a valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government, the state of Georgia or any county, municipality, board, authority or other state entity; a valid U.S. military photo ID; or a valid tribal photo ID.


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