Monday, June 14, 2021

Small Number of Voters Likely To Cast Ballots In Watkinsville Special Election

***Early Voting Turnout Light***

Only about one in five of Watkinsville’s 2,247 registered voters is likely to decide whether Chuck Garrett or Carolyn Maultsby holds Post 1 on City Council through the end of this year.

At the end of early voting on Friday, 296 voters had cast a ballot in the 14 days of early voting in the special election.

All seven of the voters who had requested an absentee ballot had returned that ballot.

The 303 cast ballots make up 13.5 percent of the city’s voters.

In the March 14 referendum on the Education Local Option Sales Tax, 175 of the 273 registered voters in the City Hall Precinct who voted cast a ballot did so in advanced early voting or via an absentee ballot.

Voters inside the boundaries of Watkinsville make up about 57 percent of the voters of the City Hall Precinct, and the suggestion is that turnout on Tuesday is likely to be light and final turnout for the election is not likely to go much above 475, or about 21 percent.

Only votes cast for Brian Brodrick will be counted in the mayoral election, since Peter Steckel officially has withdrawn from the race.

Voting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.

Background Of Election

The Watkinsville special election is the result of Bob Smith’s abrupt decision in March to step down as mayor.

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Council elected Post 1 Council Member Brodrick to serve as Acting Mayor.

Brodrick then announced he would run for mayor in the special election, freeing up Post 1 as well.

Steckel, who will be listed on the ballot as a candidate for Mayor on Tuesday and was listed on the ballot in early voting, officially withdrew on June 4. The result is that his votes will not be tallied.

That leaves the contest between Maultsby and Garrett as the only one to be decided on Tuesday.

The county Office of Elections and Registration is running the election for the City of Watkinsville under the terms of an intergovernmental agreement between the two governmental units.

Only registered voters in Watkinsville vote can cast a ballot.

The race is nonpartisan, and both the Post 1 and mayor position will be up for election again in November.

Candidate Forum

Garrett, 63, of 25 South Main Street, is a sales manager.

Maultsby, 56, of 1050 Taylor’s Drive, is a book keeper.

Maultsby ran unsuccessfully for Council in November.   

Maultsby, Garrett, and Brodrick participated in a candidate forum on May 24 sponsored by the Oconee County Republican Party and Bethel Baptist Church.

Garrett and Maultsby agreed on many issues.

Both said the city needs a city manager, that the mayor should not be full-time, that a top priority is a truck bypass of the city, and that more personnel should be hired for the city’s parks.

They disagreed on the role party should play in the election.

 Maultsby said she has labeled herself as a Republican in the election as a way of  “letting people know who I am and what I stand for,” while Garrett said the city “has to operate nonpartisan.”

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