Polk set to de­cide on E-SPLOST ex­ten­sion next week

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick SJ Ed­i­tor

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:

E-SPLOST vote

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.

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