Saturday, October 10, 2020

Virtual Candidate Forums For Oconee County Commission And State Legislative Candidates Offer Citizens Opportunities To Pose Questions

***Chambers Also Holding Forum***

Oconee County Board of Commissioner candidates will meet virtually in a forum on Monday night during which citizens will have the opportunity to direct their questions to the candidates.

The citizen-organized forum will begin at 8 p.m. on Zoom with County Commission Post 3 candidates Jacob Douylliez, Amrey Harden, and Aaron Nowak introducing themselves and then responding to questions from citizens.

Douylliez is running as a Democrat, while Harden and Nowak are running as Republicans in the nonprimaried special election.

The second part of the forum, beginning at 7:45 p.m., will feature the two candidates for the Chair of the Board of Commissioners, incumbent John Daniell, the Republican Party nominee, and Eric Gisler, the Democratic Party nominee.

Details on how to access the virtual forum and submit questions in advance are below.

The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a mixed virtual/in person forum from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday for area legislative candidates as well as for candidates for the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

A second Oconee County citizen-organized virtual forum for candidates for House District 117, House District 119, and Senate District 46 is set for 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 19. Oconee County is a part of all three of these districts. Details on how to log in for that forum are below as well.

Monday Virtual BOC Forum Details

I will serve as host of the forum on Monday and read the questions submitted by citizens to the candidates.

Click To Enlarge

My wife, Ann Hollifield, will serve as co-host, assisting with the questions submitted during the session and with the timing of responses. Philip Ashford and Karen Hilyard also will serve as co-hosts, managing logistics of the session.

The four of us hosted a virtual candidate forum for the Board of Education candidates on Sept. 17.

I also have organized, in collaboration with other citizens, local in-person candidate forums in the past.

We’ll record the session from the Monday forum and upload it to the Vimeo site of Oconee County Observations after the session in complete.

I’ll also write a summary article from the session and post it on this blog.

Please submit questions in advance to It also will be possible to submit questions as the forum progresses via the chat function of Zoom.

Monday is the first day of early in-person voting, which is being held this year at the Civic Center, 2661 Hog Mountain Road, west of Butler’s Crossing.

Login Procedures Monday BOC Forum

Here is the invitation from Zoom for the session on Monday:

Lee Becker is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Oconee County BOC Candidate Forum Time: Oct 12, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 818 1908 0650 One tap mobile +16465588656,,81819080650# US (New York) +13017158592,,81819080650# US (Germantown)

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The Candidates

The Board of Commissioners has a full-time chair and four part-time commissioners, serving in Posts 1 to 4. Terms for all five commission members are four years.

The names of Post 1 Commissioner Mark Thomas and Post 4 Commissioner Mark Saxon also are on the November ballot, but neither has opposition. We did not invite them to the forum so as to save time for the contested races.

The special election is to replace the late Willliam “Bubber” Wilkes, who passed away earlier this year. Wilkes was elected in 2018, and his term does not expire until the end of 2022. Post 2 Commissioner Chuck Horton also was elected in 2018.

Here are descriptions of the candidates from their qualification paperwork.

Douylliez, 30, of 1971 Whippoorwill Road, lists his occupation as education and minister. He has lived in Georgia and Oconee County for two years.

Harden, 66, of 1100 Briar Lakes Court, lists his occupation as retired. He is former president of Oconee State Bank. He has lived in Oconee County his entire life.

Nowak, 36, of 1191 Daandra Drive, lists his occupation as investment banker. He has lived in Georgia and Oconee County for two years.

Daniell, 53, of 1922 Elder Road, list his occupation as Chair of the Commission. He has lived in Georgia for 43 years and Oconee County for 25 years.

Gisler, 44, of 1071 Colliers Creek Road, lists his occupation as project manager. He has lived in Georgia for 17 years and in Oconee County for eight years.

Chamber Forum On Wednesday

Details on the Chamber forum were still being worked out on Friday, according to Courtney Bernardi, Oconee Chamber president.

House District candidates Houston Gaines, Mokah Jasmine Johnson, Marcus Wiedower, and Jonathan Wallace are scheduled participate in the first session of the forum from 6 to 6:40 p.m., according to Bernardi.

Gaines, the incumbent, is the Republican Party candidate in House District 117, and Johnson is the Democratic Party candidate.

House District 117 includes East Oconee, Bogart and Marswood Hall precincts in Oconee County as well as parts of Athens, Barrow and Jackson counties.

Wallace is the Democratic Party candidate in House District 119, and Wiedower, the incumbent, is the Republican Party candidate.

The remaining nine precincts in Oconee County and parts of Clarke County make up the 119th House District.

State Senate candidates Bill Cowsert, Zachary Perry, Frank Ginn, and Dawn Johnson will meet from 6:45 to 7:20 p.m., according to Bernardi.

Cowsert, the Republican candidate in Senate District 46, is the incumbent. Perry is the Democratic candidate.

Ginn is the incumbent and Republican candidate in Senate District 47, and Johnson is the Democratic candidate.

All of Oconee County falls into the 46th Senate District, which also includes parts of Clarke and Walton counties.

None of Oconee county falls into the 47th Senate District, which is made up of Madison County and parts of Clarke, Jackson, and Barrow counties.

Candidates in the special election for District Attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit will be on from 7:25 p.m. to 7:55 p.m., Bernardi said.

The candidates are James Chafin, running without a party label, and Deborah Gonzalez and Brian Patterson, both running as Democrats.

Chamber Forum Format

“Questions for candidates have been submitted by constituents in the district,” Bernardi wrote to the candidates. “From those, no more than four will be asked of those candidates in each race. Again, please remember this is a forum, not a debate.”

Adam Hammond, an Oconee County native and former television news anchor, will be moderator.

The in-person component of the forum will be at the Athens Chamber, with remote participants connected by Skype, Bernardi said.

“Due to the fact that we are having participants in person and virtual and we aren’t overly confident that Zoom can handle our needs, we have decided to partner with Jawavi Films (based in Athens) to assist with the filming and streaming of our forum,” Bernardi said in an email message on Friday.

The Forum will be live streamed on the Athens Area Chamber Facebook page, Bernardi said, and will be recorded and shared for those unable to watch live, according to Bernardi.

Login Procedures Oct. 19 Forum

I will be moderating the Oct. 19 Forum and will be assisted by Hollifield, Ashford and Hilyard.

The four of us organized the forum to provide an opportunity for citizens to submit questions of particular interest to Oconee County to the candidates for House District 117, House District 119, and Senate District 46.

Citizens can submit questions in advance to for this forum and as the forum progresses via the chat function.

All three of the Democratic candidates–Johnson in 117th House District, Wallace in the 119th House District, and Perry in the 46th Senate District--have agreed to participate.

Republican candidates Gaines in the 117th House District and Wiedower in the 119th have said they will not participate, and Cowsert has not responded to the invitation.

Because the Democratic candidates said they wanted to take questions from citizens in the forum even if the Republican candidates do not, we decided to go forward with the forum.

Registration for this forum is required. Here is the Zoom invitation:

Hi there,

You are invited to a Zoom meeting. When: Oct 19, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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