From Staff Reports
Residents in Whitfield and Murray counties can vote today on several important issues and in numerous local races. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Whitfield County Board of Education and the Dalton Board of Education have placed a five-year, 1 percent education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot in Whitfield. Officials project the SPLOST, if approved, would collect some $105 million. The city school system would use its portion, about a third, to pay for renovations at Fort Hill School to house Morris Innovative High School and for renovations at Dalton Middle School. The county school system would use the remainder to pay for various building projects and to pay down debt.
Both Whitfield and Murray residents will join with residents in 13 other counties to vote on whether to impose a 10-year, 1 percent SPLOST to fund transportation projects across the region. Other regions in the state will also vote on similar referendums. Officials project that tax would bring in some $1.2 billion. If a majority of voters in a region approve the tax, it will become law, even in the counties where it is defeated. Many observers believe turnout in Whitfield County will determine whether the tax succeeds or fails here.
Whitfield County races
Nonpartisan: Incumbent Sidney Baxter faces Randy Evans for one seat on the Magistrate Court, and incumbent Kaye Cope faces Phillip Croy, Don Allen Garrett and Jerry Leonard for another Magistrate Court position.
Board of Commissioners: On the Republican ballot, incumbent Mike Babb is challenged by Ronald Ownby for chairman, while Lynn Laughter faces incumbent Greg Jones for District 4. No Democrat qualified.
Clerk of Superior Court: On the Republican ballot, incumbent Melica Kendrick has three challengers: Susan Miller, Jodi Putnam Stuckey and Jessica Swinford. No Democrat qualified.
Murray County races, question
Voters in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in Murray can give their view in a non-binding straw poll on whether the county should maintain a sole commissioner form of government or switch to a multi-member commission.
Speaking of sole commissioner, incumbent Greg Hogan faces challenger Brittany Pittman in the Republican primary. No Democrat qualified.
Republicans in Murray will also vote on:
• Sheriff. The candidates are Gary Langford, Wyle Keith Pritchett and Ken Smith. Sheriff Howard Ensley is running for re-election unopposed on the Democratic ticket.
• Kim Dailey and Donna Flood are seeking the GOP nomination for clerk of Superior Court.
The only contested race on the Democratic slate in Murray County is incumbent Clerk of Superior Court Connie Gallman Reed against Donald Cantrell.
In nonpartisan races, Chief Magistrate Bryant Cochran faces Dwayne Hooper, and Jimmy Beavers, Leroy Green, Eric Hooker, Kevin Jones, Mike Padgett and John Waters are all in the race for Magistrate Post 2, a part-time position.
State House of Representatives
Incumbent Jay Neal, of LaFayette, faces Chickamauga businessman Steve Tarvin for District 2. Redistricting placed Trichum, Tunnel Hill and Westside in Whitfield County in District 2. No Democrat qualified.
Bruce Broadrick, Dennis Mock and David Renz face off for District 4. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton, who currently represents District 4, announced his retirement earlier this year. The district includes the city of Dalton and a few surrounding areas. No Democrat qualified.