Sunday, September 15, 2019

Watkinsville Election Forum Set for Oct. 3 At City Hall

***Open To City And County Residents***

An election forum is set for 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 3 at Watkinsville City Hall for the city mayoral and council races as well as for the Sunday Brunch issue on the November ballot.

Incumbent Mayor Dave Shearon and former state representative Bob Smith have indicated they will attend. Both are running for mayor.

Jonathan Kirkpatrick, seeking Post 2 on City Council, has said he will attend as well.

Incumbent Post 2 Council Member Connie Massey, seeking re-election to her post, has indicated she will be out of the state visiting her mother on that date as well as the following week.

Massey has indicated she will consider sending a representative.

City Administrator Sharyn Dickerson has said she will be available to answer questions regarding the Sunday Brunch Alcohol Sales issue.

Sarah Bell, Penny Mills and I are organizing the forum, which will be open to citizens from the city as well as from throughout the county.

Attendees will ask the questions of the candidates and of Dickerson.

Structure Of Forum

The forum will begin at 7 p.m. with the mayoral candidates. That section of the meeting will run for no more than 45 minutes.

The second part of the forum will be for Post 2 candidates. That, also, will run no longer than 45 minutes.

The forum will end with a session on the Sunday Brunch Alcohol Sales issue.

Voters will be given a chance to vote either for or against authorizing Watkinsville to “permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.”

At present, the city’s restaurants cannot sell alcoholic beverages before 12:30 p.m.

The program will end no later than 9 p.m.

Format For Questions

Candidates will have an opportunity to speak for three minutes at the beginning of the session to make introductory comments.

Questions will come from those attending.

Preference will be given to citizens of Watkinsville, but others can ask questions as time permits.

Watkinsville is the county seat and historic center of Oconee County and has outsized influence on the county for that reason.

Each candidate will be given two minutes for responses to each question. Order of response will be rotated.

Each candidate will have two minutes for closing comments.

Written Questions

Each person wishing to pose a question will be asked to write the question on a 5x7 index card.

Bell, Mills or I will get the card with the question from the questioner and read the question to the two candidates.

We then will hand the 5x7 inch card to the first candidate responding, who will hand it to the second.

Bell, Mills or I will be at the front of the room to explain the format and procedures, introduce the candidates, and keep time.

We will video record the session and make it available on the Oconee County Observations channel of Vimeo.

Bell, Mills and I have organized forums of this type in the past.

We are organizing this forum to create an opportunity for residents of the city and county to ask questions of the candidates and be informed about the election.

Watkinsville agreed to make the Council Chambers of City Hall available to us for the forum.


Watkinsville city elections are nonpartisan.

New Precinct Map (Click To Enlarge)

Shearon lists his address on his Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit as 5 Harden Hill Road and his occupation as mayor. He is 67 years old and has lived in the county for the last 23 years.

Smith lists his address at 58 South Main Street and his occupation as real estate. He is 66 years old and has lived in Oconee County for the last 20 years.

Kirkpatrick lives at 1020 Christian Terrace and lists his occupation as a retired employee of the federal government. He is 50 years old.

Massey’s address is 2 Second Street and her occupation is picture framer. She is 69 and has been a resident of the county for 34 years.

Registered Voters

Watkinsville is the only one of the county’s four cities holding an election this year.

The county is not holding an election.

According to Fran Leathers, director of Elections for Oconee County, the city of Watkinsville had 2,200 registered voters, as of Thursday of last week.

Watkinsville voters formerly were split between the City Hall Precinct and the Annex Precinct, but the county has now merged these two precincts into the City Hall Precinct, with City Hall as the polling location on election day.

Watkinsville voters make up a little more than half of the 4,102 voters in the combined precinct.

Watkinsvillle voters make up 7.1 percent of the county’s 30,780 registered voters.

These totals include both active and inactive voters, Leathers said in her email message on Thursday providing the figures. Inactive voters can cast a ballot.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 7, and Advanced (Absentee In-Person) Voting begins Oct. 14 at the Board of Elections and Registration Office next to the Courthouse.


Johnny Prescott said...

I'm not certain that you are incorrect, but I believe that Bob Smith has lived in Oconee County his entire life, not just the last twenty years. You might want to check that statement. Thanks for your solid coverage of Oconee County government.

Lee Becker said...


I was surprised by how Bob Smith filled out the form as well. It says: "I have been a legal resident of Oconee County for 20 consecutive years."