Only 156 of the 2,369 eligible voters in Watkinsville have cast a ballot in the first 12 days of early voting for the two Council seats to be decided in the Nov. 7 elections.
Only four persons have requested and been issued an absentee ballot, as of Saturday, and only one of those ballots had been received by the Oconee County Office of Elections and Registration.
The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot was Friday.
The total number of votes received to date is 157, or 6.6 percent of the eligible voters in the city.
In the second week of early voting, 67 voters cast a ballot. In the first week, 89 had done so.
Thirteen people cast a ballot on Saturday, and second and final Saturday for early voting, and 14 people had voted on Friday.
Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m through Friday, Nov. 3, at the County Office of Elections and Registration, 7635 Macon Highway, north of Watkinsville. Election day balloting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Watknsville City Hall,191 VWF Drive.
Voters are choosing between Rebecca Billings and incumbent Chuck Garrett for Council Post 1 and between incumbent Connie Massey and Carolyn A. Maultsby for Council Post 2.
Mayor Brian Brodrick’s name appears on the Nov. 7 ballot, but he has no opposition.
Low Key Affair
Signs in yards around the city are one of the few indications the election is underway.
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The Council races are nonpartisan, but Billings and Maultsby accepted an invitation to speak at the Monday (Oct. 23) meeting of the Oconee County Republican Party.
According to one person who attended, they made only brief comments.
Oconee County Republican Party Chair Kathy Hurley said that all four candidates were invited to appear before the Republican Party on Monday but “Chuck Garrett declined and we never received a reply from Connie Massey.”
Watkinsville voters make up a little more than half of the 4,197 voters in the City Hall Precinct, and only a small part of the 32,750 voters in the county as a whole.
In the 2021, only 596 voters cast a ballot in the Watkinsville Council races, when two council seats and the mayor were on the ballot.
Two elections in Watkinsville in the past have been decided by very narrow margins.
In November of 2019, Bob Smith defeated then incumbent Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon by two votes.
In 2016, Dan Matthews defeated Mark Melvin by one vote. (Note: When the absentee votes were counted, the difference was by two votes.)
Billings ran against Brodrick for mayor in 2021, and she received 163 votes (27.3 percent) to Brodrick’s 433 (72.7 percent).
In that same election, Maultsby ran against Massey.
Maultsby received 138 votes (24.0 percent) to Massey’s 438 (76.0 percent).
That year, Garrett ran for reelection unopposed.
In a special election in June of 2021, Garrett had defeated Maultsby in a race for Post 1, with 76.4 percent of the 390 votes cast to Maultsby’s 23.6 percent.
On her qualification form, Billings listed her profession as “retail,” her age as 42, her address as 149 VFW Drive, and her time in residence in Georgia as 42 years, with all of those in Oconee County and 10 of those in Watkinsville.
Garrett listed his profession as sales manager, his age as 66, his address as 25 South Main Street, and his time in residence in Georgia as 66 years, with all of those in Oconee County and the last five in Watkinsville.
Massey listed her occupation on the qualification form as retired, her age as 73, her address as 2 Second Street, her time in Georgia as 44 years, with 38 of those in Oconee County, and the same number of years in Watkinsville.
Maultsby listed her occupation as self-employed, her age as 58, her address as 1050 Taylors Drive, her time in Georgia as 26 years, with all of those in Oconee County and in Watkinsville.