Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The endorsements

These are my endorsements for local races in Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County. Seeing that it's obvious who I'm backing for president and senator, I won't bother to waste your time.

Clarke County Board of Education District Two
One of a handful of no-brainers to me. Vernon Payne's service of 30 years, while noble, means that it's obvious his time has come and gone for the BOE. Not only was Payne one of the primary reasons it was borderline impossible to pass necessary and required ethics reform, it's time for a fresh start in this district. J.T. Jones brings with him a lifetime of experiences from the public and private sector, the military and a dedication to serving his community. Jones is an excellent choice for this seat.

Clarke County Board of Education District Six
A little less than a year ago, this would have been a difficult choice for me. During my days at the paper, I got to know Charles Worthy and considered him to be a solid choice to serve the community. However, he's provided ineffective leadership for the BOE, stonewalled ethics reform and, according to several sources, was the primary reason Tommy Craft was removed from Cedar Shoals. While I have some reservations about Jim Geiser, there's little question the experience and expertise he brings will benefit the local schools in a way that Worthy cannot.

Clarke County Board of Education District Eight
An excellent choice between two extremely qualified candidates. Chinami Goodie and David Huff both bring different perspectives to the BOE, and both of them are much needed for this body. Goodie, a stay-at-home mother with children in the school district, has been an active and vocal participant in a variety of school functions, including the local PTOs. In addition, she was a key figure in the community-driven movement to have a say in the hiring of the principal at Barnett Shoals Elementary School. Huff would bring a savvy business sense to the BOE, and I give him significant credit for supporting a flexible program to assist at-risk students, modeled after a program in Hall County. While folks would be hard-pressed to go wrong with either candidate, I think Chinami Goodie would be a great asset to the BOE.

Athens-Clarke County Commission District Six
In no race have I wavered back and forth as much as this one. Both Red Petrovs and Ed Robinson have some good qualities and some good ideas, but they also have some negative qualities and some bad ideas. Petrovs has been a visible and active leader in OneAthens and he would bring a much-needed business perspective to the commission, but his politics trend to the right a little bit and I've been troubled by some of his views of local non-profits for quite some time. Robinson has strong views on land-use policy and regional cooperation, but he simply hasn't impressed me much as a candidate (and the annexation discussion - even as a last resort and even as something that might only be possible 20 to 30 years down the road - troubles me). I can see myself agreeing with many of their decisions, but I can also see myself banging my head against a wall based on some of their actions. In the end, however, I have to break with several of my fellow progressives and back Red Petrovs for two main reasons - his committment to fighting poverty (even if it's through a different ideological prism) and his recognition that redeveloping blighted commercial areas, particularly big box shopping centers, is a crucial issue for the district.

Athens-Clarke County Sheriff
Another toss-up ... sort of. On paper, it's easy to gravitate toward Kenneth Brown. He's got a great resume, grew up in the same housing projects he now patrols and offers a fresh break from some of the frustrating debacles that have occurred under Ira Edwards's watch. Still, several folks have expressed to me concern over his ability to effectively manage the department, particularly in light of the impending decision on constructing a new jail. This race will probably be the closest local one, and I'm going to have to with my initial reaction which is to give the nod to Kenneth Brown.

Oconee County Board of Education Post Five
Not a bad race here either. Rich Clark and Tom Breedlove come from different business backgrounds and bring different ideological views to the table, but their common vision is the same. Breedlove's call for efficiency in spending is welcome news in tough economic times, particularly with the state desiring to lop more funding away from local schools. Clark has solid views when it comes to incorporating technology into the classroom and tapping into the resources through the University of Georgia. Lately, this race has been colored by Superintendent-Gate, and that's what pushes me away from my earlier consideration of Breedlove's fiscal responsibility to Clark. Breedlove initially seemed rather indifferent to the very serious nature of the BOE's secrecy, while Clarke immediately called for increased transparency and wasn't shy in expressing his disappointment with the board. As a result, Rich Clark is the best choice in this race.

Oconee County Commission Chairman
Um, yeah. I wanted Sarah Bell to win, so there's that. Melvin Davis is far from a dream as commission chairman, but Tom Leach, at times, appears to be flat-out nuts. So, it's kinda of a case-closed situation as Melvin Davis is the best of the lot.


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