29% of Fannin County Has Already Voted in the General Election


As of noon Thursday, Nov. 3rd , 5,218 Fannin voters have already voted in early voting.  Fannin County has 17,932 registered voters. Friday, Nov. 4th is the last day of early voting, which you can do from 9-5pm at the Board of Elections at the Fannin County Courthouse.  The next time you can vote is on the official Election Day, Tues. Nov. 8th.  Polls will be open from 7am-7pm.  Sonia Smith, Chair of  Fannin’s Board of Elections asks everyone to have patience at the polls on Tuesday as the voter turnout is expected to be “huge.”

Below the article the address for Fannin polling places.  If you are unsure of your registration status or unsure of your poll location, you can always ask for a provisional ballot.  In the few days after the election, Fannin Board of Elections will review your provisional ballot to see if it is valid.  Official election results usually aren’t released until the Friday after Election Day.

Smith said that all absentee ballots must be at the Board of Elections by time polls close on Tuesday.  Since it is so close to Election Day, if you haven’t mailed your ballot yet, the best way to make sure your vote is counted is to deliver it by hand to the Board of Elections.  Even if your ballot is postmarked by Nov. 8th, it will not be read if it arrives at the Board of Elections after Nov. 8th.

In Georgia, voters cannot change their votes after the vote has been cast said Smith.  Some national media outlets have told voters it is possible to change their votes.  While that is possible in some states, that is not the law in Georgia said Smith.

As for all the early election ballots that have been cast, they are sitting sealed at the Board of Elections.  The seal will not be open and early voting ballots read until 7 pm on Election Day, the same time all polling locations in Fannin will be tallying votes.  The only information Board of Elections has at this time is how many people have voted.  They do not know how many voters are Republicans or Democrats as Georgia doesn’t register voters according to political party.

Poll watching has also been in the national news.  Chuck Cook of Fannin’s Board of Elections said that no one has registered to be a certified poll watcher in Fannin County.  According to Georgia law, the only people who can stay at a polling place for a period of time to watch for voter fraud are people who are certified through Georgia Secretary of State’s office.  The time for poll watching certification is closed.

For more information about security of Fannin County elections and potential for voter fraud see FetchYourNews’ article “Poll Watching for Voter Fraud” published Oct.10th .  Smith invites anyone who has questions about the security of Fannin elections to come to the Board of Elections after Nov. 7th and she will be happy to explain the security to you.

Smith has one more piece of information about the elections.  “There is no excuse for not voting.  Early voting has made it so easy.  Polls are opened from 9-5 during early voting days and open on Saturday (Oct. 29th) for voting.  Precincts are open from 7 am to 7 pm on Election Day,” said Smith.






School Board Race Highlights Candidates’ Different Experience

Election, News, Politics

There are three school board seats up for reelection this year: Sandra Mercier Seat, Lewis DeWeese Seat and Terry Bramlett Seat.  Both Lewis DeWeese and Terry Bramblett are running again for their respective seats.  There are three candidates for the Sandra Mercier Seat, Jeremy Davis, Clarence “Junior” Farmer and Chad Galloway.  Ms. Mercier is stepping down from her school board position in December, which marks 42 years of service she has given educating Fannin’s children.

In the school board race, the difference is in personal experience the candidates will use to inform their decisions.

Jeremy Davis, a graduate of Fannin County School System, has served on the school governance team at his children’s elementary school.  The governance teams act like a mini-school board which makes decisions uniquely suited to the school.  By doing such, Mr. Davis understands the policy and administration aspects of education. On his school governance team he has pursued tools that increase educational experience.  Right now he is working on a TVA grant which, if awarded, will bring outdoor classrooms and nature trails to Fannin elementary schools.  One of the toughest challenges he sees for the school system is the Milestones test which tests achievement at various grade level.  The tests are still being modified by the state and Mr. Davis wants to help kids transition to the different test-taking skills needed.

Chad Galloway, like Mr. Davis, is a graduate of Fannin County School System.  His experience is in facility maintenance, which, next to personnel, is the biggest expense of a school system.  Also, in work in maintenance for the Gilmer County school system, he hears the daily conversations between students and teachers, so he understands more of the everyday life inside the school.  From being around many different kids of many different ages, he sees the influence society has on kids and wants to see school be a safe zone for children.

Clarence Farmer pulls on his previous Fannin County School Board experience.  While on the Fannin County School Board, Mr. Farmer helped hire Mark Henson as Superintendent and Erik Cioffi as Fannin High School Principal.  Mr. Farmer promised the audience that he will give the same dedication and wisdom to the school board that he did before.


FetchYourNews is compiling voters’ questions to the candidates.  If you have any questions for  Mr. Davis, Mr. Farmer or Mr. Galloway, submit them in the comments section at the end of the Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide. Please don’t include editorial statements in the question. FetchYourNews will be asking candidates these questions in interviews throughout the campaign season.



See Related Posts:  Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide: Names, Faces and Candidate Information




Commission Chair Candidates Present Different Views

Election, News, Politics

In the Board of Commissioners Chairman race, the emphasis in answers was we don’t need a fix versus Fannin county government needs more transparency, accessibility and forward motion.

Mr. Simonds point was, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  His examples of how the Board of Commissioners isn’t broken is that the county has stayed in the black during his term. Mr. Simonds reminded the audience about the new 911/EMS center and an industrial park that the Fannin County Development Authority is building. When asked about what he wanted to accomplish over the next four years, Mr. Simonds replied that he would keep doing what he is doing: paving roads, constructing the 911/EMS center, bettering the courthouse parking situation and chasing grants for funds which will keep the millage rate low, as it has been for the last eight years.

Helton offered concrete examples of how he would fix things in the county.  One is keeping people up to date on how road improvement projects were going with the simple fix of keeping the projects and their progression readily available on the county website. Mr. Helton’s vision for tightening up Fannin county’s budget is to examine the $886 per citizen per year that the county government spends whereas counties surrounding Fannin spend 37% less per capita than Fannin does.  He also wants to move the Water Authority towards more self-sufficiency so that all of its revenue will come from billing customers.  Currently, the county financially supports parts of the Water Authority until the Authority’s income is greater than its expenses in setting up a new public utility.  Other items on Mr. Helton’s to do list are more competitive garbage pick up contracts and improvements in recycling and a 10,000 sq. foot stand-alone library.

When asked about the challenges the county will face in the next four years, the two looked at different themes.  Mr. Helton cited the doubling of Fannin population from a decades long steady number of approximately 14,750 to its current amount of 25,000 calls for managed growth.  He wants the Commissioners to anticipate changes that a large influx of new residents will bring while working to maintain Fannin’s culture and traditions that brought people here.  Mr. Simonds said the challenges would be to: manage the budget, keep doing what we are doing, pave roads, take care of local charities; look at courthouse and new jail needs.

The two also touched on library funding, which is a hot topic about town due to the possibility of library funding coming up on the SPLOST ballot in November.  Mr. Simonds said that he would look into the library.  Mr. Helton said that he would promote a stand-alone library which will also give the courthouse extra space; however, he does not think that the county needs a library that costs $4.5 million.

In closing statements, Mr. Simonds said with pride that Fannin was one of the few counties in Georgia to remain financially solvent throughout the Recession and that he is proud to live in a county that is head and shoulders above any county in Georgia.  Mr. Helton asked the audience if they wanted to continue with another term of a Chairman that believes it is my way or the highway.  Mr. Helton said that teamwork and training are ways to grow an efficiently run local government.  He promised not to manage the old-fashioned way but to manage through he learned as a Petroleum Industry manager.


FetchYourNews is compiling voters’ questions to the candidates.  If you have any questions for  Mr. Simonds or Mr. Helton, submit them in the comments section at the end of the Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide. Please don’t include editorial statements in the question. FetchYourNews will be asking candidates these questions in interviews throughout the campaign season.



See Related Posts:  Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide: Names, Faces and Candidate Information



Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide: Names, Faces And Candidate Information

Election, News, Politics

Local Election Season is on us.  To help you know the candidates, FetchYourNews prepared this Voters’ Guide.  The guide lists the offices on the ballot, underneath each you can see the names and pictures of the candidates.  Also, next to the pictures is a link which takes you information the candidates provided which they prepared themselves. The information is not written by FetchYourNews.

At the bottom of the page, in the comments section, submit questions that you would like FetchYourNews to ask the candidates in later interviews.  The comments are to be in a question form. They should not be editorial comments about why to vote for one candidate or against another.  Laura Love will moderate the questions.

Local and State General Primary Elections are on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.  Early voting begins on May 2.  You can vote during business hours at the Board of Elections at the Fannin County Courthouse.  Saturday voting is on Saturday, May 14th.  You must register by April 26 to vote in the May 24 Elections.

If you have questions about whether you are registered or not or about where your polling place is, there are two ways to find out.  You can call the Fannin County Board of Elections at 706-632-7740.  Also you can go to mvp.sos.ga.gov .  This is on Georgia’s Secretary of State website.  The website asks you for name and address; then it will tell you your registration status and where your poll location is.

If you want your Election Day to be extra red, white and blue, you can be a Fannin County Poll Worker.  Board of Elections Secretary Mary Ann Conner says, “We are always looking for poll workers.” You can contact her at 706-632-7740.


Contested Elections

County Commission Chairman

Helton        Stan Helton


        Click here to read Mr. Helton’s announcement and positions.



declined to provide

        Bill Simonds






      declined to provide  Larry Bennett






dane kirby

         Dane Kirby



         Click here to read Mr. Kirby’s announcement and positions.


johnny scearce

        Johnny Scearce


       Click here to read Mr. Scearce’s announcement and positions.



declined to provide


       Jack Taylor




declined to provideRusty Whittenbarger




Chief  Judge of Magistrate Court



      Danette Davis

     Click here to read Ms. Davis’ announcement and positions.




brian-jones      Brian Jones

       Click here to read Mr. Jones’ announcement and positions.




Sherri-L.-Walker300      Sherri Walker


       Click here to read Ms. Walker’s announcement and positions.

Tax Commissioner

    shirley sosebee paint   Shirley Sosebee



         Click here to read Ms. Sosebee’s announcement and positions.


marie woody pic       Marie Woody


        Click here to read Ms. Woody’s announcement and positions.

School Board (Succeed Sandra Mercier)


    information forthcoming   Jeremy Davis





chad galloway       Chad Galloway


        Click here to read Mr. Galloway’s announcement and positions.




clarence farmer        Clarence “Junior” Farmer


Uncontested Elections

County Commissioner  Post 1


       declined to provideEarl Johnson



Clerk of  Superior Court

        dana chastainDana Chastain



        Click here to read Ms. Chastain’s announcement and positions.




becky callihan paint       Becky Callihan



       Click here to read Ms. Callihan’s announcement and positions.


Judge of Probate Court


       declined to provide  Scott Kiker






County School Board (Succeed Terry Bramlett)


terry bramlett            Terry Bramlett



            Click here to read Mr. Bramlett’s announcement and positions.


County School Board (Succeed Lewis Deweese)


     lewis deweese        Lewis DeWeese



            Click here to read Mr. DeWeese’s announcement and positions.







    shelly bishop crop 2       Shelly Bishop



              Click here to read Ms. Bishop’s announcement and positions.





Shelly Bishop Brings Experience to County Surveyor Position

Election, Politics

I am thankful to have been the county surveyor for several terms.  It is a distinguished office that goes back to the first county surveyor in the United States, George Washington.  County surveyors were mainly set up to resolve boundary line disputes between different parties.  Now, the different parties hire their own surveying firms and solve the dispute in court.  So, a lot of counties have abolished the unpaid office of county surveyor.

A county surveyor is a great asset to the county and should be used more.  County surveyors are regulated through the state professional registration.  Surveyors do environmental permitting, erosion control, consulting on road-widening and clarifying boundary issues.  Up here in Fannin County, environmental permitting for erosion control is very important.  If the Environmental Protection Division comes out to a site and finds violations, it is $2,500 per day.  With ten violations, and they do write violations fast, that can be $25,000 a day in fines.  If mud from a construction project gets into a creek, you can bet the EPD is coming.

I hope that the county sees that a county surveyor is good stewardship of the county’s money.  The County Commissioners pay for survey services from other surveyors in the area.  They hire my firm too.  This means the total price includes overhead for my firm.  Asking the County Surveyor first will save money, especially when the county paves roads.  I can give them information about environmental permitting before mud ends up in creeks.

I started surveying because I like to put together different pieces of information about a property. I look at the deed and earlier surveys to figure out the intent of the surveyors.  I am one of the first female surveyors that the state of Georgia certified.  I know Fannin like the back of my hand.  I am glad to give this service back to the community.  Thank you for voting for me to be the Fannin County Surveyor.




Fannin Chamber of Commerce Hosts Candidates’ Forum

Election, Politics

At the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce’s Fannin County Political Forum on Monday night, 18 candidates for six different contested local elections spoke: Sheriff, Chief Judge of Magistrate Court, Commission Chair, School Board, Tax Commissioner and District 7 Representative.  The even lasted from 6 to 9:30 pm.

The format was the same for all groups of candidates.  First was a three-minute opening statement.  Then each candidate got two minutes to respond to the moderators’ question. Finally, each candidate gave a closing statements.  All candidates in each race answered the same questions.  The questions were more to get at the general vision of the candidates in terms of priorities, challenges and how to administer tasks of their offices. Almost all questions were those from the moderators.  The audience had a chance to submit questions at the door.  However, time constraints restricted audience questions to just three total throughout the forum.

Candidates did not debate each other.  For the most part, the candidates just spoke about their own ideas.  They let their words and examples show contrasts, but did not specifically say this candidate is wrong in their beliefs and why.  In other words, the information flowing across the stage was much more courteous and lower-keyed than the ongoing US Presidential race.

The only invited candidate that did not attend was John Williamson who had to miss due to an unalterable schedule.  He is contesting for the State Senate seat.  Current State Senator Steve Gooch did speak.  He said that some pressing needs that will better north Georgia economically are rural healthcare, better tourism promotion for north Georgia outside of the state and tax reform.


See Related Posts:   Sam Snider and Speaker Ralston Speak at Fannin Forum

Commission Chair Candidates Present Different Views

Five Sheriff Candidates Face Off in Fannin

Magistrate Court Candidates… the First in 28 Years

School Board Race Highlights Different Experience

Woody and Sosebee State Their Vision for Tax Commissioner’s Office




Chad Galloway to Run for School Board


Being a native of Fannin County, and a Fannin County High School graduate, class of 1995, this school system, and its success, are very personal to me.

In running for the BOE, my primary objective is to ensure that I am a steward of the community’s fiscal resources, while maintaining an academic focus for all children served in our community.

It is my objective to act as a liaison between the community and the BOE/Superintendent. Only under a common voice are we able to ensure all parties are represented at the decision table.

It is my objective to ensure, both verbally and in action, that all students, faculty/staff, and citizens, are provided with an open, honest, and transparent Board of Education, working within our means, while ensuring student growth and progression.

My family, wife Amanda, class of 1997, and my three girls, currently reside in Morganton, where we actively participate in the life and growth of Concord Baptist Church. My Sunday’s are spent acting as Choir Director, and I serve as both the Treasurer of the Activity Fund, and the Secretary of the Cemetery Committee.

Professionally, I was privileged to be co-owner of Galloway Construction for 12 years, before looking to new employment opportunities. I currently serve as the lead plumber/electrician with the Gilmer County School System Facilities Department.

Personally, I have been honored to serve as the 2nd Vice-Chair in the Fannin County Republican Party, and in 2015, I was inducted into the FCHS Hall of Fame, based on my Track career.


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