Monday, May 07, 2018

Candidates Tell Oconee County Republicans The Party Has To Overcome Complacency To Win In November

Seven Candidates Speak

Steven Strickland and Marcus Wiedower are competitors in the Republican Primary on May 22, but they made it clear in comments to the Oconee County Republic Party late last month that they share the goal of taking back Georgia House District 119 from the Democrats in November.

Both blamed “complacency” for their and the party’s defeat in the four-person special election held last November to fill the unexpired term of Republican Chuck Williams. The election was won by Democrat Jonathan Wallace.

Houston Gaines, who has no competition in the Republican Primary on May 22 for Georgia House District 117, formerly held by Republican Regina Quick, was harsh in his criticism of incumbent Democrat Deborah Gonzalez, who defeated Gaines in another special election last November for the 117th Georgia House District.

Gaines said Gonzalez “got absolutely nothing done” in the legislative session just completed and “never will” accomplish anything in the General Assembly because she is in the minority party.

Gaines, Strickland and Wiedower were three of the seven candidates to speak to the Oconee County Republicans at the party’s regular meeting on April 26.

Amy Parrish, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Education, also addressed the group, as did Eric Norris, running to retain his Superior Court judgeship in the May 22 nonpartisan Judicial General Election.

Other speakers were Bradley Griffin from Jasper County, one of three Republicans running in the 10th Congressional District Republican Primary, and Jim Beck, Carrollton, running in the Republican Primary for Insurance Commissioner.

Turnout Focus

Strickland and Wiedower were respectful of Wallace, who defeated them and Tom Lord in the four-way race in November, though they did indicate they disagreed with things Wallace had done during the legislative session.


Strickland said he would take some responsibility for the low turnout in the special election and has organized student volunteers to go door-to-door to bring voters to the polls for the May 22 primary.

Turnout in early voting continues to be low, with Fran Davis, director of Oconee County Elections and Voter Registration, reporting at the end of the day today (Monday) that only 655 of the county’s 28,284 registered voters had cast a ballot.

Early voting started a week ago and continues until May 18. Voting will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday at the Board of Elections and Registration Office next door to the Courthouse in Watkinsville.

Strickland And Wiedower On Issues

Strickland said he wants to develop more apprenticeships to train future workers, to invest in rail service to get goods from the Georgia ports to the rest of the country, and make sure the University of Georgia and other institutions of higher education are properly funded.

Strickland also said he supports religious liberty and will be “very tough on immigration.”

Wiedower said he would work to build relationships with leaders in Atlanta and said former Rep. Williams set an example in that regard.

Wiedower said he did not think the state should offer incentives to bring businesses to Georgia.

“I don’t care if they come at all,” Wiedower said when asked if he supported efforts to bring the Amazon business center to the state. “I don’t think we should offer them anything.”

Strickland and Wiedower, responding to questions, said they did not support the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Gaines On Gonzalez

While Wiedower said he did not think incumbent Wallace is “representing us all” and criticized Wallace for voting with fellow Democrats, Gaines was much more critical of Wallace and of his opponent in November, Rep. Gonzalez.


“The voters, particularly in Oconee County, need to realize we’ve got two extremely far-to-the-left Democrats representing us in the General Assembly,” Gaines said.

“No matter what political belief you have,” Gaines said, “I don’t see how you can be pleased with the representation we have right now. Not only because she is far to the left. The reality is that she got absolutely nothing done and never will.”

Gaines said “we are fortunate to have conservative leadership” in the General Assembly.

“And we have somebody who is over there very far left who can’t get anything done,” Gaines said.

“Next November we have an opportunity to reverse that,” he added.

Parrish On Schools

School Board candidate Parrish said the county has an excellent school system and she wants to continue to work to support that excellence.


Parrish was appointed to the Board to fill an unexpired term and is running her first election. She has competition from Adam Spence in the Republican Primary.

“The world changes,” Parrish said. “So you can’t stay stagnant. You must continue to grow. And nothing is ever perfect. As good as it is, it is not perfect. There is always room for improvement.”

“Our desire is for every child to have a path and the tools they need to move beyond high school and be successful,” Parrish said. “That looks different for every kid.”

Bill Mayberry asked Parrish if the Board would consider changing the times of its meetings, and Parrish answered that “I think we’re open for discussion.”

Parrish told Mayberry no one has brought up this request “since I’ve been on the Board.”

Brandi Herndon, moderator of the Facebook group, Parents Improving Oconee Schools, made just such a request of the Board, with Parrish present, at the Board’s April 16 meeting.

Norris On Judicial Race

Superior Court Judge Norris gave a presentation to the Oconee County Republicans that mirrored comments he had made to Oconee County Democrats the week before.


Norris explained the jurisdiction of the Court and explained the nature of the Western Judicial Circuit, which includes Clarke and Oconee counties.

“If you find yourself in front of a Superior Court judge, you would like to know that that judge has the experience to decide a case, to rule on a case,” Norris said.

Norris said he has the “experience, temperament and knowledge” that is needed in a Superior Court Judge.

Norris was appointed to that position two years ago and is being challenged in seeking a full four-year term by Allison Mauldin, chief assistant district attorney in Greene County.

The May 22 election is final, with the winner assuming office in January.

Griffin And Congressional Race

Griffin is joined by Joe Hunt in challenging incumbent Jody Hice in the Republican Primary in the 10th Congressional District.

Griffin is CEO of a digital marketing services company, and Joe Hunt, from Oconee County, is vice president of Franchise Relations at Zaxby’s.

Hice is a pastor from Monroe.

Griffin said he wants to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to bring down costs, wants the patent length shorted from 20 years to 15 years to encourage development of generic drugs, and wants to speed up the approval process to get those drugs on the market more quickly.

On immigration, Griffin said the wall with Mexico “has to be built as a physical deterrent before any deals can be made.”

Griffin also said the “current educational system is not helping our students to be prepared to fill the jobs we already have” and called on improvements in skill-based education.

Beck On ACA

Beck, a former deputy insurance commissioner, said he is self-financing his campaign to avoid conflicts that come with finance contributions.

The election provides “an opportunity for you to truly elect an independent insurance commissioner,” Beck said.

Beck was particularly critical of the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare was never about providing (for the) uninsured health insurance,” Beck said. “It was a power grab over 20 percent of the gross domestic spending.

“It was no different than a third world dictator nationalizing oil wells,” he said.

Beck has opposition in the Republican Primary from Jay Florence from Norcross and Tracey Jordan from Jackson County.

Florence spoke before the Oconee County Republican Party in March.


I was not able to attend the meeting on April 26, held at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce in Watkinsville.

Sarah Bell did attend, and she produced the video below. Bell estimates that 25 people attended the meeting.

Griffin began his comments at 2:25 in the video.

Beck began speaking at 16:48.

Strickland began his comments at 26:15.

Wiedower’s comments are at 35:53 in the video.

Gaines came to the podium at 41:25 in the video.

Parrish spoke at 51:20.

Norris’ comments begin at 1:04:01 in the video.

OCO: Oconee County GOP 4 26 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.


Unknown said...

I would like to clarify one item. I’m aware that the meeting time was brought to the board recently by Brandi Herndon. I was under the assumption that Mr. Mayberry was also aware of that. I was commenting that it hadn’t come to the board prior to Ms Herndon. I appreciate what you do for our community. Amy

JRV said...

Complacency is only part of the problem. The bigger problem is that the primary process requires these Republican candidates to declare their loyalty to Trump, which hurts them in the general election. Russell Edwards and others will be there during the general to ask a series of simple question of the Republican candidate: Did you vote for Donald Trump? Do you support his policies? Will you vote for him in 2020 if he is the Republican nominee?

The question would be better asked this way: What is your moral argument for supporting Donald Trump?

From what I can see, Strickland and Joe Hunt are the only Republicans who have a shot at winning the general because they are willing to criticize Trump's policies on moral grounds. But that's why they won't make it out of the primary.

Anonymous said...

You can learn more about Steven Strickland's background and platform at He also posts issue-specific videos on his Facebook page at

Anonymous said...

The 10th Congressional District / Athens-Clarke GOP held a straw poll at well-attended public event this past weekend, including attendance from Oconee County residents. It appears the Primary race for State House District 119 has tightened up. The two GOP candidates (Strickland and Wiedower) finished in a tie with 42.4% of the vote each and 15.2% undecided.

Kirk Shook issued a Press Release with all race results from the straw poll.

Anonymous said...

You can also learn a lot about Steven Strickland by where he puts his signs (public right-of-ways, property where he wasn't given permission, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Strickland appears to understand the issues facing our county and state. He is not throwing out wild assumptions, but sound approaches.
Yes, he is a electable general election candidate.

Bill Mayberry said...

To: Ms. Amy Parrish, with respect:
I was indeed aware that the issue of changing the time of BOE meetings had been brought before the Board several days before I asked you the question in the open forum.
Thus I was confused by your answer and asked you to clarify.
You said plainly and clearly that you were unaware the issue had been brought before the Board.
Now I am concerned about your veracity.

Unknown said...

Mr. Mayberry:
I apologize for the confusion. I must have misunderstood your question at the forum and thus answered it incorrectly. I intended to say, a change of meeting time as not come before the Board since I've been on it prior to Ms. Herndon's comments at the recent Board meeting. It appears I didn't articulate that correctly. No one has discussed changing the meeting time with me before Ms. Herndon. Please contact me if you have additional questions. Thank you, Amy

Unknown said...

Need to make another correction. I responded to Mr. Mayberry and it should have been to Dr. Mayberry. My apologies.

Bill Mayberry said...

No problem, Ms. Parrish.
I answer to both, which is better than what my wife calls me.
I very much appreciate your respectful answer to my post.
You have officially been raised one notch.