Democrats qualified for three Oconee County offices on Friday, setting up competitive races in November for the Board of Commissioners Chair and two Board of Education posts.
Eric Gisler, co-chair of the Oconee County Democratic Party, qualified for the Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Laura Williams Ormes qualified for Post 4 on the Board of Education, and Joan Parker qualified for Post 5 on the Board of Education.
Friday was the last day of qualifying before the May 19 primaries, and since no other Democrats filed for the three positions, Gisler, Ormes and Parker will be able to move to the Nov. 3 ballot after the primary.
In contrast, incumbent Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell faces two opponents in the May 19 Republican primary.
Incumbent Post 4 Board of Education Member Tim Burgess is unchallenged in the Republican primary, but Post 5 on the Board of Education is an open seat, being vacated in December when incumbent Wayne Bagley, also a Republican, steps down.
Two candidates–Michael Ransom and Adam Spence–have qualified for the Republican primary for the Post 5 spot.
Incumbent Board of Education Chair Tom Odom has no opposition in the Republican primary. Since no Democrat filed for that race, Odom also will be unopposed in November unless someone files an affidavit by March 18 regarding the notice of intention to be a Write-In Candidate.
Oconee County voters cast 88 Democratic ballots and 39 Republican ballots on Friday in early voting for the March 24 presidential primary, bringing the total number of ballots cast in the first week of early voting to 613. Of those 369 were Democratic ballots and 244 were Republican ballots.
Gisler lists his occupation as project manager on the declaration of candidacy. Gisler shares the position of Oconee County Democratic party chair with Melissa Hopkinson.
Ormes lists her occupation as analyst.
Parker lists her occupation as demand side specialist.
In addition to Board of Education Chair Odom and Post 4 Board of Education Member Burgess, others incumbent county office holders without primary opposition are Coroner Ed Carson, Clerk of Superior Court Angela Elder-Johnson, and Tax Commissioner Jennifer Riddle.
Carson, Elder-Johnson and Riddle qualified as Republicans.
James Hale and Jimmy Williamson qualified for the Republican primary for Sheriff.
Carol Bennett and Johnny Pritchett join incumbent Daniell in the Republican primary for the Board of Commissioners Chair race.
Jonathan Laster and incumbent Mark Thomas will compete in the Republican primary for Post 1 on the Board of Commissioners, and Maria Caudill and incumbent Mark Saxon will run for the Republican nomination for Post 4.
Probate Court, Early Voting, Candidate Forum
Mike Hunsinger, George Roberts and James Williams have qualified for Probate Court Judge. Current Probate Court Judge David Anglin is retiring.
Hunsinger, Roberts and Williams meet in a nonpartisan race on May 19 in conjunction with the party primaries. If none of the three gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two voters getters will meet in a runoff on July 21.
Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 20 at the Board of Elections and Registration Office next to the Courthouse in Watkinsville. Saturday voting is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 14, also at the Board of Elections and Registration Office.
The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce is holding a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. March 17 in the auditorium at North Oconee High School, 1081 Rocky Branch Road, for candidates for Coroner, Clerk of Superior Court, the Board of Education, Probate Court Judge, Oconee County Sheriff, Tax Commissioner, and the Board of Commissioners.
Candidates who have no opposition in the primary will be given a chance to speak, according to Courtney Bernardi, Chamber president.
I appreciate the challengers to the BOE members especially with the BOE proposed changes to the agreement with the county on use of athletic fields. The change from no costs other than expenses to high costs will raise costs for all taxpayers of the county. The county will be forced to build more athletic fields and/or the families of the children who utilize the OCPRD programs will bear higher costs unless subsidized by the county. Clearly this BOE does not have the best interests of the county at heart. This should be a community where our county facilities whether managed by the BOE or the OCPRD are shared to minimize costs and maximize appropriate use. The OCPRD provides a service to the schools with their athletic feeder programs, after school programs, etc. The BOE should recognize this and work with them, not price gouge them.
I would have liked to have seen more challengers for BOE since everyone is so displeased with BOE.
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