All three of the candidates seeking to fill Post II on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners are proponents of more transparency regarding how the Commission spends revenue from its Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Only Chuck Horton, however, stated a willingness to have a citizen committee to provide oversight for decisions made by the Commission on the 1 percent sales tax. Other counties, including Athens-Clarke County, have such a citizen committee.
“Maybe we need to have a group of citizens...get a report: Where are we on these projects that you said we were going to do?” Horton said in a one-on-one interview on a wide range of issues confronting the county.
Candidate Marcus Wiedower rejected the idea of a citizen review committee, saying “The oversight is the Commission” in his interview.
Ben Bridges didn’t take a stand on the appropriateness of a citizen oversight committee, but he did say “We need to have more openness to how much money is being collected and where exactly is it going for anybody to see.”
Early voting is underway, and 2,295 voters already have cast their ballots for the Nov. 8 election, which includes the special election to fill the unexpired term for the Post II BOC Commission as well as other local, state and national elections.
Turnout for early voting has been running strong all week.
Today (Thursday), 616 persons cast their ballots, according to Pay Hayes, director, Oconee County Board of Elections.
On Wednesday, 521 persons had voted.
The figures were 575 on Tuesday and 583 on Monday.
The 2,295 represents 8.2 percent of the 27,845 registered voters in the county.
Early voting continues until Nov. 4. Saturday voting will be on Oct. 29.
Responses Of Candidates
Bridges, Horton and Wiedower were responding to questions I asked them in interviews on Sept. 25, 25 and 27, respectively.
Complete videos of those interviews are available on an Election Channel I created on the Oconee County Observations Vimeo site. The Election Channel also contains complete videos of the two election forums held for the Nov. 8 election.
In the interview, Horton gave the most detailed response, criticizing the current Board of Commissioners for holding money collected in the 2004 SPLOST and for transferring funds from water and sewer projects to pay off the jail.
Bridges mistakenly referenced the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales tax in his answer. That tax is controlled entirely by the Oconee County Board of Education, not the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.
The video of the answers of the candidates to the question on SPLOST is below, starting with the answer of Wiedower.