The first ever political forum in Chattooga County sponsored by all three of the county’s major news media was held at the Dandee Denson Shrine Auditorium in downtown Summerville on Tuesday evening. All but two of the candidates that have qualified for county wide office showed up for the forum and there was a large crowd in the audience. Candidates faced questions from The Summerville News, SKY 21 TV and AM 1180 Chattooga County Radio.
The candidates for county commissioner all expressed their opinion that a single commissioner is the best form of government for the county. Their was disagreement between the candidates on the handling of the water issue in the county as well as the view of the candidates on the role of boards appointed by the commissioner. Incumbent commissioner Mike Dawson stated his position that the boards such as the animal control board, the water board and others appointed by the commissioner are there simply for an advisory board for the commissioner. Candidates Jason Winters and Blake Jones both agreed that the commissioner should listen to the boards views, but also expressed the view that the most qualified people should be put on those boards and that the commissioner should use them and their opinions as much as possible. Candidates Charles Black and Joe Reed both stated that especially in the case of the water board the commissioner should follow their recommendations closely.
The candidates for Tax Commissioner both stated their case for the role of tax commissioner. Candidate Lamar Canada touted his experience as a business owner and his current job as public works director as qualifications for the job. Incumbent Cathy Van Pelt Brown emphasised her experience in the office as well as her years of bookeeping knowledge as her qualifications for the job. Brown told the audience that her role was the county’s bookeeper. Their was discussion about the modernization of the office and the role that the internet could play in making the county’s tax office more accessable. Their was disagreement between the candidates about the possibility of making tax payments in monthly or quarterly installments. Brown said that she was for the idea, but that it would cost the county more money in accounting. Canada stated that he had been thinking of ways to implement the idea.
The candidates for Sheriff all agreed that radar’s in the county’s patrol cars would be a good idea. Sheriff Ralph Kellett said that over the years the job of patrolling the highways and county roads has increased for the county’s law enforcement and that he would be in favor of radar guns in the cars. Kellett flatly denied that not having radar in the county patrol cars was influenced by any political motivation. He pointed out that any time someone is arrested it may cost a vote and that it should be no different with writing a ticket for speeding. Candidate for sheriff John Everrett stated his qualifications for the job emphasizing his experience as a state trooper. Candidate Aubrey "Smitty" Smith told the audience that he had been a resident of the county since 1975 and cited his experience in working under Gary McConnell and as a Trion Police Officer as qualifications for the job.
AM 1180 Chattooga County radio would like to thank all of the candidates that participated as well as the candidates that were not on the forum that were in attendence. State Representative Barbara Massey Reece, along with her challenger Republican Betty Brady, also Probate Judge John Payne, along with Lan Cordle and Tracy Maddox and candidate for Superior Court Judge Brian House were all in attendence. We would also like to express our appreciation to moderator O.G. Moorehead along with The Summerville News and especially Terry Adams with SKY 21 TV for the use of the audio feed for our listeners. AM 1180 Chattooga County Radio will re broadcast the forum at a later date.