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Blue Ridge, Ga. – The August 11, 2020 runoff is fast approaching and only one seat in Fannin County will be seen on the ballot. That seat is for Fannin County Commission Chairman. Incumbent Stan Helton faces Challenger Jamie Hensley for the Republican nomination.
With no Democratic nomination for the seat, the winner of the August runoff will be the presumed winner of Fannin County’s next Chairman.
FYN sent several questions to both Incumbent Helton and Challenger Hensley, so that voters will know where the two candidates stand on key topics in Fannin County.
SPLOST and tax collections in general are expected to take a hit due to statewide business closures. How do you plan to navigate the areas impacted by less revenue?
Helton – County revenues and SPLOST were down in the latter part of March and April. However, YTD our TOTAL County revenues are down only 2% and LOST & SPLOST collections are actually slightly ahead. We have put a strong emphasis on watching our costs and thru May – the County is actually 8% under budget on expenditures. We are already addressing potential shortfalls by delaying any Capital projects that will not hamper essential services. We also plan to scale back paving this year to about 50% from our previous rate which will keep the Roads and Bridges expenditures to a minimum. That will help protect our SPLOST fund balance.
Hensley – As it stands now there will be State funding cuts that will affect Fannin County, but locally I would need to see the final numbers to make decisions on whether or not steps need to be taken to balance any budget issues. Fannin County has shown to be resilient in the past and right now the economy in our area is demonstrating that resilience again.
Recently the City of Blue Ridge took steps toward annexation of county territory. Would you be for the city expanding its limits?
Helton – The County has not received any official documents from the City of Blue Ridge and the article in the County news organ is all I can respond to. It appears that the primary impact would be to extend City liquor laws into the County without an approved referendum by the voters. I am not in favor of excluding the voters on this important issue and oppose Annexation without a thorough and proper process.
Hensley – At this time, I would not be for the City of Blue Ridge annexing portions of the county. There needs to be planned growth in Fannin County and there needs to be a focus on infrastructure and public services being able to handle the change and growth. I worry that annexation and the large developments that were proposed could negatively impact residents. For example, with property value and taxes. There needs to be citizen input on these major decisions in the county.
Many states and cities are increasing property taxes to make up for lost revenue. Would you be for increasing the millage rate to make up for this lost revenue? If not, how would you manage oversight on property values to ensure that inflation does not occur?
Helton – Raising Millage rates and increasing property taxes is a last resort. With the cooperation of the Chamber , the BOC has voted to raise the Hotel/Motel tax from 5% to 6% which is paid by tourists. Also, continuing to challenge other County offices to find budget savings is another alternative to raising the Millage rate. The Tax Assessors Board and office is responsible for managing the property valuation in Fannin County, not the Board of Commissioners. The continued influx of people that move into Fannin County buying property and building homes will naturally increase values for all property owners.
Hensley – My goal is to keep Fannin County’s Millage rate the lowest in the State of Georgia. That is something that we have been proud of for many years and I would like to continue to maintain this status. Being proactive by looking at the overall county budget and finding ways to save taxpayers’ money within our operations is the action I would take before considering raising the Millage rate.
The purchase of the Whitepath property has been divisive in the community. Do you feel it was a good purchase and how would you move forward with the project?
Helton – It was a GREAT investment for Fannin County and was MANDATED by the voters on the 2016 SPLOST referendum. $3,150,000 was allocated for this goal and we have used $1,300,000 cash out of that fund balance to make this purchase ( which was voted on in an open meeting back in May 2019 ). There is $1,850,000 SPLOST available to repurpose that building and possibly move the library over and double their space from the current crowded location in the Courthouse. This is a great value for the County and is less expensive than building a new Administration Building. The BOC has simply followed through with what the voters already approved in November 2016- – – namely, move the administrative functions out of the crowded Courthouse to improve parking and citizen access. There should be no controversy in doing what the people voted on and mandated.
Hensley – I understand the need for residents to have easier access to Fannin County public services. The current location of the courthouse has issues like parking that poses a problem for many. I do have questions on whether the Whitepath building is the best option to relocate these services. I understand that the building was purchased with SPLOST funds for this specific reason, but would like to propose another option, if possible, to explore. I would like to see the building used to bring industry and jobs back to the county. With the grant that the library received, I would like to look into a stand alone library. Space in the courthouse, as well as parking, would be freed up just by moving the library.
Are there any areas of our local government that you feel need to be looked into and possibly reformed? How would you go about making changes?
Helton – The voters have a chance for reform every four years – – – – it’s called an election and candidates should present their ideas for change or reform to the citizens before the election. Voters can then make their choice on what needs changing. I think Fannin County works pretty well and I don’t support expanding the BOC members or making a change to our type of local government.
Hensley – There are departments within our local government, like any government, that could improve. A way to get these improvements would be to stop using Fannin County as a training facility for workers. When we find quality workers we need to offer competitive wages and benefits to keep these workers here. I would look to make all departments self sufficient by hiring and retaining quality employees.
There is concern of a second wave of Covid-19 hitting in the Fall. What steps would you take for public safety if this were to happen? How do you feel about the county’s response to the first wave in March?
Helton – There have been lessons learned from the Federal Government to the State of Georgia on down to the local level in dealing with this unforeseen pandemic. Fannin County initiated our Health Emergency Declaration Order nine days before the Governor implemented his HEDO. I feel our response was timely and effective in slowing down the COVID – 19 spread by reducing the influx of tourists into Fannin from highly infected areas outside the County. If a second wave hits again the Governor would issue orders that would reimplement his previous HEDO (supercedes County orders ) and we would by law fall under the State decree.
Hensley – Fannin County handled the first wave of Covid-19 very well considering the information that was presented to us at the time. This is completely new territory for everyone. The decisions made during March laid the groundwork for how to tackle similar situations in the future. If there were further outbreaks causing a need for action, I would use the guidelines and recommendations given by the State and the CDC, along with common sense, to form a plan of action for our county.
What personal qualities do you feel sets you apart from your opponent? Why do you feel like you are the better person for the job?
Helton – I have a BBA Degree from the University of Georgia and thirty five years running large business during my Oil Industry career. I’m an ACCG Certified County Commissioner and have the experience to run a $28.5 million dollar County budget. I’m willing to make tough decisions that benefit the citizens and not special interests that are moving here or are already part of the establishment. I am the only candidate that has NOT accepted any donations , and not compromised by nepotism or favoritism.
Hensley – I have served the public for over 30 years operating a business. I am a citizen of Fannin County like everyone else. Over the years I have listened to the good and I have listened to the bad, and as Chairman, I will continue to listen and to get out and interact with residents. I want to unite and to move forward on common ground and I will do this by listening to and working with the people. I know that not every decision can make everyone happy, but I will always do my best to make the right decision.
***NOTE regarding the upcoming runoff***
Early voting will begin July 20th and end on August 7th
Hours : 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday
Location: Fannin County Board of Registration and Elections, 400 West Main St., Suite 301.
The Board of Registration and Elections will be practicing social distancing, have a sanitizing table set up and will also be sanitizing the office and voting equipment throughout the day.
All Precincts will be open on August 11, 2020 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Social distancing and sanitizing will be observed in all Precincts.
If you voted in the June 9, 2020 General Primary, you must vote the same ballot style you selected then, with the exception of Nonpartisan. Nonpartisan will be allowed to select either party’s ballot style.
If you did not vote in the June 9, 2020 General Primary then either ballot style can be chosen.
The Board of Registration and Elections are accepting ballot applications, as well as poll worker applications . If anyone has any questions please call 706-632-7740.
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – The polls have closed for the June 9 General Primary. To review the unofficial election returns for your local races, see below. Please remember all the results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.
Incumbent Stan Helton and Challenger Jamie Hensley will move to a runoff.
Stan Helton 1,554
Vincent Davis 1,012
Jamie Hensley 2,707
Bill Simonds 1,312
Post 1 Commissioner
Susan Hayes 1,854
Debi Holcomb 818
Johnny Scearce 3,818
Clerk of Superior Court
Board of Education
Terry Bramlett 4,812
Greg Staffins 1,500
Board of Education
Lewis Deweese 3,743
Lorraine Panter 2,628
Board of Education
Shelly Bishop 4,505
Sam Walker 1,832
Becky Callihan (Incumbent) 4,885
Billy Standridge 1,590
To see the state election returns, click here.
Run-off elections will be held on August 11 if needed. The General Election is scheduled for November 3 as well as the jungle primary for Senator Kelly Loeffler’s seat.
BKP interviews the candidates for the 9th Congressional District. These candidates discuss with BKP the latest in the news from Black Lives Matter, Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, Department of Education and the 2nd Amendment on if they support it or not. These interviews will better help you get to know the candidates for the June 9th election.
ATLANTA, Ga – The March 24 Presidential Preference Primary has been moved to May 19 with the rest of Georgia’s primary elections in an effort to keep the public safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement that early in-person voting for the Presidental Primary will be halted.
Georgia now joins Louisiana as a state that has chosen to push back elections because of COVID-19.
On Saturday, Georgia reported 66 COVID-19 cases and one death from the virus. Earlier today, Gov. Brian Kemp declared a public health emergency and has called in the National Guard to assist with the pandemic.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – Qualifying has officially ended in Fannin County, and many candidates came out to have their names put on the ballot for the open seats in the 2020 Election.
The following candidates have officially qualified in Fannin County:
Fannin County Chairman
Stan Helton (Incumbent – Republican)
Bill Simonds (Republican)
James Hensley (Republican)
Vincent Davis (Republican)
Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner
Johnny Scearce (Republican)
Susan Hayes (Republican)
Debra Holcombe (Republican)
Dixie L. Carter (Democrat)
Fannin County Board of Education (Succeed Terry Bramlett)
Terry Bramlett (Incumbent – Republican)
Greg Staffins (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Lewis Deweese)
Lewis Deweese (Incumbent – Republican)
Kathy Smyth (Democrat)
Lorraine Panter (Republican)
Board of Education (Succeed Chad Galloway)
Chad Galloway (Incumbent – Republican)
Teresa “TC” Dillard (Democrat)
Fannin County Coroner
Becky Callihan (Incumbent – Republican)
William “Billy” Lake Standridge, Jr (Republican)
Fannin County Tax Commissioner
Rita Newton (Republican)
Fannin County Sheriff
Dane Kirby (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Clerk of Court
Dana Chastain (Incumbent – Republican)
Fannin County Chief Magistrate Judge
Brian Jones – Incumbent
Fannin County Probate Judge
Scott Kiker (Incumbent)
Fannin County Surveyor
Shelly Bishop (Incumbent – Republican)
Sam Walker (Republican)
District 7 State Representative
David Ralston (Incumbent – Republican)
Rick Day (Democrat)
State Senate District 51
Steve Gooch (Incumbent – Republican)
June Krise (Democrat)
Public Service Commission District 4
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr. (Incumbent – Republican)
Nathan Wilson (Libertarian)
Daniel Blackman (Democrat)
John Noel (Democrat)
Judge of Superior Court Appalachian Circuit
Brenda Weaver (Incumbent – Non-partisan)
District Attorney Appalachian
B. Alison Sosebee (Incumbent – Republican)
Ninth District U.S. Congress
Michael Boggus (Republican)
Andrew Clyde (Republican)
Matt Gurtler (Republican)
Maria Strickland (Republican)
Kevin Tanner (Republican)
Ethan Underwood (Republican)
Devin Pandy (Democrat)
Paul Broun (Republican)
John Wilkinson (Republican)
Dan Wilson (Democrat)
Kellie Weeks (Republican)
United States Senate – Perdue Seat
James Knox (Democrat)
Jon Ossoff (Democrat)
Teresa Pike Tomlinson (Democrat)
Tricia Carpenter McCracken (Democrat)
Sarah Riggs Amico (Democrat)
Shane Hazel (Libertarian)
Marc Keith DeJesus (Democrat)
Maya Dillard Smith (Democrat)
David Perdue (Incumbent – Republican)
United States Senate – Loeffler Seat (Special Election in November)
Kelly Loeffler (Incumbent – Republican)
Doug Collins (Republican)
A. Wayne Johnson (Republican)
Kandiss Taylor (Republican)
Tamara Johnson-Shealey (Democrat)
Matt Lieberman (Democrat)
Joy Felicia Shade (Democrat)
Ed Tarver (Democrat)
Richard Dien Winfield (Democrat)
Al Bartell (Independent)
Allen Buckley (Independent)
Brian Slowinski (Libertarian)
Derrick E. Grayson (Republican)
Rod Mack (Write-In)
Qualifying for the presidential preference primary election occurred in Dec. 2019 and will take place on March 24, but the general primary for the state is on May 19, 2020. For the general primary, early voting begins on April 27.
My name is Jamie Hensley and I am running for Fannin County Commission Chairman. I would like to share why I am asking for your vote on May 19th. I am a lifelong resident of Fannin County, raised in the Mineral Bluff area. Growing up in our home, my mom, Marie and my dad, the late “Verl” Hensley, taught me and my sisters the importance of faith, family, and giving back to our community.
I currently reside in the Epworth area with my wife of 26 years, Faith. We have raised our two wonderful daughters, Lauren and Kaelyn, to have the same values. Our son-in-law, Josh, currently serves our country in the Army National Guard, and our beautiful granddaughter Lainey rules the roost. I am an East Side Wildcat and a 1989 graduate of Fannin County High School. I am a member of Mineral Bluff Lodge #483 and a member of Helping Hand Fellowship Church. Now, I want to use my deep-rooted values to serve all of Fannin County.
The qualities I feel the citizens of Fannin County expect and deserve from their Commission Chair go hand-in-hand with the leadership skills I have acquired during my 24-year career at Circuit World. I started out as a delivery driver, was quickly recognized for my hard work, dedication, determination, and was soon promoted to General Manager. I have been the General Manager of five locations for over 15 years. One of my main responsibilities is managing the operation of the businesses within a budget. I have had to be a good steward of the company’s money and not waste it. My success in business has been due to my ability to deliver on promises. I keep my word. If I tell you I am going to do something, you can count on it. I thoroughly understand budgets, purchasing, negotiations, hands on training, and public relations. I excel in leadership qualities. Leadership is not telling people what to do – it is listening to ideas, prioritizing the needs, and finding the best solution to accomplish the goal. As Commission Chairman of Fannin County, I will never forget it is YOUR money.
I have a long-time record of community involvement. For years, I have been involved with youth sports. I have coached softball since 1999 and enjoyed every minute of it! I was part of the coaching staff that landed Fannin County’s first ever 14U State Champs. Currently, I serve as President of the Fannin County Lady Rebels Softball Booster Club, and I am an active board member of the Blue Ridge Humane Society.
I believe Fannin County needs positive leadership. Fannin County, as you know, has grown immensely in the last 25 years. I feel we need to take a more proactive approach instead of simply being reactive to our community’s growth. We are proud of our history and must remember our past, but we must accept the fact that we are growing. If we don’t proactively plan for future growth and steer the “ship” properly, the county will experience uncontrolled growth.
I will improve communication between county offices, departments and government. We must work as a team to ensure that all departments are properly staffed and equipped to give the best service to our citizens that they so richly deserve. A better line of communication needs to be established with volunteers. Our county has a wealth of volunteers wanting to serve, especially in the area of animal control.
I support our public safety and will work diligently to ensure that our EMS/EMA, law enforcement, and first responders are given the resources necessary to do their jobs, which is to KEEP US SAFE. Additionally, I will work daily to see that our roads are maintained for all travelers. It is my belief that the main function of government is to provide for the peace, safety, and prosperity of its citizens.
I fully understand the scope and responsibilities of the Chairmanship of the Fannin County Board of Commissioners, and I am committed to making Fannin County an even better place to live.
Announcement from Dixie Carter – Candidate for Post I Commissioner
On Nov. 3rd, Fannin County will elect a new Post I Commissioner. My name is Dixie Carter, I am running for the Post I seat and I need your vote on Nov. 3rd. I am not looking for power or status, I just want to serve my community and work hard for all the citizens of Fannin County.
I am an 8th generation Georgia native and have resided in the North Georgia mountains for over 35 years. It has been a blessing to live and work in the north Georgia communities of Dalton to Ringgold and now Morganton. Currently, as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I assist individuals living with mental health disorders and substance use disorders. I earned a Master of Social Worker degree from Kennesaw State. I have been serving Georgians for over 30 years. As a social worker, I have witnessed how a community’s challenges can affect a person’s quality of life such as a lack of affordable housing, few jobs that pay a living wage, limited choices in public transportation, and lack of a public library to meet the needs of almost 26,000 residents. However, I have also witnessed how generous and giving the Fannin County community can be when others are in need. Our local community has many strengths and assets that we can build on to improve the quality of life for all our neighbors.
My training as a social worker has given me the knowledge, skills, and values to help individuals improve their quality of life. Also, my training has given me the tools to work with citizens in making positive changes in our community. As a commissioner, I want to collaborate with citizens in order to serve the public interest. After all commissioners are elected to represent the people and provide a safe and healthy community for all.
As your commissioner, I plan to govern by keeping the community informed of ongoing projects, needs, and financial issues. A town hall or community forums, written monthly updates, and quarterly newsletters are a few actions that can help inform citizens as well as gain input from citizens.
I look forward to talking with the citizens of Fannin County and listening to your concerns.
Dixie L. Carter
Candidate for Post I Commissioner
FANNIN COUNTY, Ga – The board of commissioners approved the qualifying fees for the 2020 election year during the Jan. meeting.
The fees constitute three percent of the base annual salary for each office and qualifying will begin on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 9 a.m. The time ends at 12 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Here’s a list of the offices and associated fees:
Chairman, Board of Commissioners – $1,794.86
Post One Commissioner – $180.00
Sheriff – $1,779.86
Tax Commissioner – $1,491.65
Clerk of Court – $1,491.65
Judge of Probate Court – $1,491.65
Chief Magistrate Judge – $1,491.65
Coroner – $694.08
Board of Education (3 seats) – $144.00
County Surveyor – $144.00
The general primary will be held on May 19, 2020 and the general election will take place on Nov. 3, 2020. This year the entire state of Georgia will be using new electronic voting machines that provide votes with a paper ballot to review. However, voters must turn that ballot in before leaving the polls or their vote will not count. The state is making great efforts to educate everyone on the new system to ensure no hiccups occur on election day.
From Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger press release:
Raffensperger has been traveling Georgia meeting with local officials and community groups talking about the statewide implementation of the new system in time for early voting in the March 24 Presidential Preference Primary. Replacing the state’s 17-year-old electronic voting machines with modern, secure touchscreen ballot-marking devices, printers, scanners and locked ballot boxes is the largest one-time transition of election systems in U.S. history.
The old equipment is being collected from counties, and deliveries to them are being made.
Specifications for the system came from a bipartisan commission made up of experts on voting, security and handicapped accessibility. Next, national companies submitted proposals matching those specifications which were evaluated by a multi-agency panel that selected Dominion Voting Systems’ bid. Then, an independent engineering firm tested and analyzed Dominion’s equipment to ensure it met the specifications, which included U.S. Election Assistance Commission guidelines for voting security.
vote will be private and will be counted – accurately,” Raffensperger said. “Look the system over, and you’ll agree.”
McCaysville, Ga. – Polls have closed and votes have been tallied in the City of McCaysville 2019 General Election.
The hot topic on the ballot for this 2019 election was Sunday alcohol sales within city limits. The proposal and reading of the new ordinance was met with little opposition and overwhelming favor at public hearings and City Council meetings.
Although, there appeared to be little opposition to the new ordinance the final count of the votes told a different story with the votes being split on the yes/no question.
Ordinance 19-08-13 currently reads that a licensed establishment within city limits would be allowed “Sunday sales of malt beverages and wine for consumption on the premises”.
These sales can include beer or wine (hard ciders will also be allowed) on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:45 p.m.
Voters ultimately decided to allow these sales with a final tally of:
- Yes (in favor) – 90
- No (opposed) – 87
Thomas Seabolt will remain as Mayor of McCaysville, beating out opponent Rodney Patterson. Incumbents Larry Collis and Sue Beaver will also remain as members on the City Council. Newcomers Gilta Carter, Susan Kiker, and Jason Woody will take the three seats vacated by previous council members.
***These election results are unofficial until being certified by the Secretary of State’s office***
- Thomas Seabolt – 117
- Rodney Patterson – 63
- Jason Woody – 146
- Gilta Carter -131
- Larry Collis – 122
- Susan Kiker – 120
- Sue Beaver – 112
- Steve Stanley – 93
- Tamberlyn Tanner – 48
- Nathan Turpin – 69
“Paid advertisement by the Campaign to Elect Bill Simonds Chairman of Fannin County”
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Board of Elections unveiled the new voting machines during their meeting held on Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
The new voting machines, pictured to the right, will be utilized by the next presidential preference election, thus doing away completely with the old machines according to the Fannin County Board of Elections.
These new machines will create an instant paper trail with each vote cast according to Vice Chairman Mary Ann Conner, whereas the current machines create paper receipts of all votes cast only at the end of each election day.
Unlike previously believed, however, these machines will still utilize the same plastic yellow card system currently in place. The card will now be inserted into the bottom of the screen, where the yellow card reader sits.
Instead of hitting “Cast Ballot”, voters will select “Print Ballot”, at which time each voter may clearly view the candidates and measures voted upon during the touch screen process on a physical piece of paper.
If the printed ballot displays discrepancies, the voter may be re-issued a ballot, whereas before once “Cast Ballot” was selected, there was no turning back.
If the printer ballot displays correctly, then the voter will take the ballot to a scanner to have the ballot recorded before having it placed into a locked box.
Voters will not be allowed to carry their paper ballot out of the precinct, and all printed ballots will be kept in the Clerk’s office for a minimum of two years under law.
The county currently only has one machine, but 10 are expected to be received within the next shipment, followed by 70 more, making a total of 80 machines for the county to utilize during elections.
Conner states that the public will soon be able to practice with these machines ahead of the elections, and Fetch Your News will be sure to notify you of when this process begins, so be sure to stay tuned!
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