Let’s Get Ready to Rumble
I like to think of the beginning of the election season as the conclusion of qualifying for the municipal races. The cities elect their leaders off year from the county, state, and federal. This means we have the appetizer of the local races concluding with elections (and very seldom runoffs) occurring just about the time that all the other races start to kick into high gear for the following election cycle.
Municipal races are the most personal. Unlike a county or state race, in a city race you have a much higher chance of running against a neighbor. You may be running against a friends mom or dad, a fellow church member or just someone from your HOA. While the majority of us in Hall County won’t have a vote in these races, they are important and worth following. Let’s see if we can break down some of the races. Hmm, let’s start in the North and work our way South:
Clermont- This race is unique because it is not a mono-y-mono race. You are not head to head; you just don’t want to be in last place. We have four candidates racing for three positions with the loser going home. The candidates are John Brady, incumbent, Seth Weaver, incumbent, Donna Reeves, rookie, and Debra Armour, rookie. This race will be tough to handicap because there will not be a lot of information on these candidates. So far, I have not found a website for any of the candidates. The two rookies, one appears to be a business owner in Gainesville (Donna) and the other may have been in real estate (Debra). Seth Weaver has served a couple of terms as a council member while John Brady was a former mayor before completing a partial term; I think he was a mayor for 3 years and a councilmember for 6. You have to think that this will be a battle between the rookies with Donna holding a little more name recognition since her son is currently completing a term on the council (Albert Reeves).
Lula- has one race set as Veneda Simonelli has qualified to run against incumbent Larry Shuler for the Post 1. The other seats are not contested. Mrs. Simonelli, has made her voice known in the past and is a local business person.
Town of Gillsville- I guess there are no challengers since it looks like incumbents qualified (There is a Dale on council and I assume that Jeffery Dale is the same as Todd Dale, but I could be wrong). A couple of years ago, no one ran for an open seat and they ended up getting a couple of people to qualify for the special election. Well, it looks like it has happened again with no one qualifying for seat 5. I have also heard that the mayor, Larry Poole, is considering a run at a county office, perhaps Tax Commissioner. So, the problem here is that there just may not be enough people to choose from. In 2000, there were only 195 people in the town. There has been a massive population explosion in Gillsville since 2000; as of the last census the Town of Gillsville now has 235 people.
City of Gainesville- like Lula, there is only one race here: newcomer Debra Harkrider vs. incumbent Bob Hamrick. Councilmember Hamrick has been on city council since 1969, serving as mayor 5 times (Gainesville rotates the mayor). Mrs. Harkrider, a former business woman of the year, will be a good challenger.
City of Oakwood- since Councilmember Gary Anderson started to leak that he wasn’t going to run again, I figured that there would be a race, but I am a little disappointed that there isn’t more than 1 race. In the race for the open seat, we have Todd Wilson vs. Rogers Puckett. This is a race we need to learn a little more about. It seems like one might be a plumber, but as I haven’t found web pages or anything else, I can use anything. Feel free to enlighten me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flowery Branch- I think that Flowery Branch and South Hall in general will be the battle ground for some time to come. A few years ago, Fetterman and Lutz came on the scene and ever since there has been a battle between old and new in South Hall. Flowery Branch is the battleground. Just take a look at the growth: Flowery Branch went from 1251 people in 1990, to 1806 in 2000 before the explosion called Sterling on the Lake shot the numbers up to 5679. Flowery Branch is now the 2nd largest city in the county with the newest population. That is the framework to make it somewhat interesting. You have 3 candidates as old as the county and 1 candidate as new as Sterling. With Mary Jones running against her old City Council nemesis, Fetterman, this should be a fun match. But the difficult race appears to be the race for post 1: challenger Damon Gibbs vs. Incumbent Amanda Swafford. The first thing that tells you that this race is different is that there are already websites up! Incumbents Chris Fetterman and Amanda Swafford have had their sites up since their last campaigns. The challengers still need to catch up. We will keep an eye on this race.
Braselton and Buford- it is hard to call these cities part of Hall County, but they are. I have not heard anything about races here. If you have any tips, please let me know: email@example.com
We should have some more information to fill our pages for the next couple of months. I am looking forward to the Flowery Branch race and the Gainesville race. The others are kinda of unknowns, but should still be fun to watch. Happy politicking everyone!
Saying but Staying,