Polk set to decide on E-SPLOST extension next week
Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, to decide on one big countywide issue and in municipal elections on this year’s ballot, with two contested races: one in Cedartown and one for a Rockmart-area Board of Education seat.
There’s a few more days of early voting ahead of polls closing down for the weekend and reopening at 7 a. m. next Tuesday morning for the big day of casting ballots, with voters able to go to the Board of Elections office in Cedartown at 144 West Ave. to take part, or for this week only in Rockmart at the Nathan Dean Community Center on Goodyear Street from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As of press time, more than 150 people had cast ballots in the 2017 race according to the Board of Elections office. They expected that tally to grow this week as absentee ballots are sent in by mail, and residents run to the polls ahead of Nov. 7 to avoid long lines and wait times.
Though with an off-year election and no national candidates or statewide candidates or issues on before voters on the ballot, turnout is expected to be low this year.
All seven of Polk County’s precincts will be open for the decision on the ESPLOST from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 7. They can be found at the Aragon Municipal Complex, 2814 Rome Highway, Aragon; Pine Bower Baptist Church, 100 Pine Bower Road, Cedartown; the Bert Wood Youth and Athletic Complex, 605 Lynton Drive, Cedartown; Victory Baptist Church, 15 Hendrix Road, Cedartown; Cedar Creek Christian Center at 1890 Rome Highway, Cedartown; the Rockmart Community Center, 436 Hogue Ave. Rockmart; and Young’s Grove Baptist Church, 2255 Antioch Road, Cedartown.
Make sure to go to the right polling station to take part in the election by visit sos.ga.gov/myvoterpage to find out where you’re supposed to vote, whether you are registered and find out about information to get help voting if needed.
Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot in Polk County for 2017:
The Polk County Board of Education is asking local residents to get out to the polls and make the decision known on whether they would like to continue the 1- cent sales tax draw beyond the expiration in 2021.
Officials at the Polk School District are asking for the extension for another 5 years and additional maximum of $25 million to continue school building projects across the district, with much of the money earmarked for maintenance and improvements over time.
This round of funding - to cover the cost and interest on a new round of bond sales if approved - will go toward major repairs and expansions at nearly every school building. Among the improvements are repairs and replacement for local elementary, middle and high schools of their heating and air systems, building maintenance at the schools, continuing the renovations and expansion at Cedartown High School, Rockmart High School’s new agriculture education facility, improving athletic facilities at the high schools and middle schools, and more.
School officials are looking to accomplish the work in four phases through the next several years, and brought in Education Planners to help go over the expected costs and revenue from the E-SPLOST draw to give the board and public a clear idea of how much spending will be happening over the next several years.
Voters previously approved an extension of the E-SPLOST to build the new Polk County College and Career Academy at Cedartown High School, make renovations to PCCCA classrooms at Rockmart High School, add on the new athletic facility and gym entrance at RHS, and add new classrooms at Eastside Elementary School, among other items involving technology and security upgrades.
District 6 Board of Education
race on in Rockmart
Voters in Rockmart’s District 6 for the Board of Education will be going to the polls to vote on who will take the seat on a permanent role following the resignation of Hal Floyd back in August, and the subsequent appointment of one of this year’s candidates for the office.
Carolyn Williams, Judy Wiggins and Chris Culver are the trio seeking the school board seat on a permanent role after Wiggins was appointed to take over through the rest of the year.
Williams, a former educator in several school districts and with the Department of Corrections, seeks the seat to ensure that students are given every opportunity to shine, but also to balance the needs of District 6 and those of the whole county.
“As a rule, students are students. So there would not be that much difference between what the needs of District 6 are than what they are for the whole,” she said. “District 6 would be my number one priority, but the whole district is my concern.”
Former Polk School District teacher and educator Judy Wiggins, who took over on an interim basis on the Board of Education by appointment by the board itself, seeks to keep the seat for the coming years now that she is in office on a temporary basis.
She said when it comes to balancing what the needs of District 6 are with the rest of the county, her experience has taught her that the needs of one area are usually the needs of all.
“Every little aspect of what our students needs are need to be looked at for each decision made,” Wiggins said. “I can assure you sitting on this board for the past month that no decision is being made without a lot of questions being asked.”
Local businessman Chris Culver, who is head of Culver Exterminating Company, is a 1990 graduate of Rockmart High School and has two children in the school district currently in Rockmart Middle and Rockmart High School as well.
He wants bring a common sense approach to the seat, avoiding politics and simply focusing on what he can do for students as a political newcomer to the Polk School District, though he isn’t a stranger to serving having been on a number of boards over the past 20 years.
“How many of you have woke up one day and said ‘I want to be on the Polk School Board,’” Culver said. “Me neither. I truly don’t think you wake up one day and say I want to do that. It’s not been the most appealing position to hold over the years. Let me just say this: I wasn’t raised to run, I was raised by my parents to serve. And that’s what I hope to do in this case.”
Cedartown commission to fill three seats in contested race
A pair of incumbents and a pair of challengers look to fill three seats in the Cedartown City Commission race for 2017.
Ending their first term, Commissioners Jordan Hubbard and Matt Foster are seeking to keep their seats, while longtime candidate Patrick McNally and newcomer Jessica Brewster Payton seeks to fill at least one of those spots.
The third seat is being left open by Commissioner Larry Odom, who decided not to seek a new term representing the city.
Hubbard, a local real estate and business owner and educator, recently also took over duties as a tennis coach as well. He currently serves as the commission’s chair, is also taking over as the District 1 President for the Georgia Municipal Association. He owns Ideal Bakery, several downtown Cedartown buildings, and teaches a dual enrollment class at Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools.
Also hoping to retain his seat is Foster, who also is finishing up his first term on the board. Foster teaches at Northside Elementary, is son of school board member J.P. Foster and has also undertaken several coaching positions for schools during his tenure with the Polk School District.
Jessica Brewster Payton is a newcomer to local politics, but has been following along with the happenings in the Cedartown Commission for some time. She and her family live in Cedartown, a neuromuscular therapist who owns Balanced Movement in Rome.
Also running for a commission seat is longtime campaigner Patrick McNally. An immigrant of Ireland, McNally was a former police officer and car salesman before retiring and working as a community volunteer.
Aragon, Rockmart races
uncontested this year
The Aragon and Rockmart city councils are both uncontested races this year, with one last candidate in the former city dropping out prior to the start of voting this year.
Rockmart’s city council race was completely uncontested for 2017, with Lucille Harris, Joe Henderson and Sherman Ross all having sought their seats during qualifying in August without any opposition stepping up for the year.
After some tribulations in the Aragon City Council race, voters won’t be having to decide between four candidates after all.
Amy Causey, Candace Seiz and Judson Fee will all be taking council seats come January when the new term begins in the latest shakeup of Aragon leadership this year.
Council member Hunter Spinks, who came back to serve through the year chose not to run for a new term, leaving open two seats for consideration after council member Tammy Mulkey resigned her seat.
Back in August, Kelsey Collum dropped out of the race and resigned his seat after qualifying, and Linda Hilburn withdrew as well, requiring the Board of Elections to re-open qualifying for 2017.
Seiz and Wilson joined the race to make it contested again, but back in early October the Board of Elections reported that Wilson asked to be dropped as a candidate as well.