So today’s the first day of early, in person voting. As you know, you must select either the Republican ballot or the Democratic ballot. The Republican primary is in effect the local election, as I believe the last Democrat elected to Fannin County office was probably Richard Vollrath, and that had to have been nearly 25 years ago.
Having said that, the Democrats have a few strong candidates for school board, with long experience in the school systems, T.C. Dillard and Kathy Smyth. They have a real shot. It would be great if they won, as the current school board is heavy on old guys. They’re great guys, but they might be a bit out of touch with today’s challenges. One of them has been heard to brag that they only hire local people to teach. That’s great, but the world most of these kids are going to have to live and work in is a bit wider than the old Fannin County home. It might be good if the kids knew something about it, as evil as it is.
But … if you are voting absentee, you’ve already selected your ballot. If you voted in the primary on one ballot – Republican or Democratic – you have to vote that way in the runoff. And there will be a runoff, in all likelihood, as there are more than two candidates for the important county spots.
But … and here’s the kicker, if you don’t vote in the primary, you can vote for either party’s candidate in the runoff. I don’t know that’s true in this election, as they’ve invited law suits by changing some of the rules, but that’s the way it’s been in the past.
There are four candidates for Chairman. Two are unknown, and under the virus shutdown, have not had a chance to make themselves known. There are two with a track record, Stan Helton, the current Chairman, and Bill Simonds, the immediately past Chairman. The election will be between them, in all likelihood, in a runoff. Stan has pissed a lot of people off because of his brusque style, and the fact that he hasn’t been like a candy store for the county employees. He’s also unpopular for limiting or refusing to have public comment at county meetings. But he’s not the first to do that by any means. Bill did it too, and he wouldn’t put you on the agenda to speak when you had an interest in an issue. You could say you didn’t like how they voted, after they voted. To try to be fair, if I were on the Commission, I think I’d get tired of the same people making the same hostile comments meeting after meeting, too.
On the plus side, Stan consulted with Dillon Miller, the Chief Medical Officer at Fannin Regional, and did the right thing to shut the county down so it wouldn’t be overwhelmed in the event that we had a virus outbreak. It was a tough decision to turn off the cabin rental and tourist business, and I think it took guts to do it.
And I think Stan has been a good steward of the county finances. Bill, on the other hand, faces well known allegations of misappropriations of county funds, which allegations seem to be pretty much well substantiated with copies of checks written on the SPLOST fund, which were uncovered by the Fannin Focus, now defunct newspaper. In fact, a lot of people think it’s amazing that he’s been shameless enough to run again, given his record. I guess it going to be that way, so long as the second home owners and retirees are willing to put up with government by the good old boys, for the good old boys, screw the outsiders.
But, in case anyone cares, I’m voting for Stan.