BY KRISTI REED
The Barrow County Republican Party held the first of three scheduled candidate forums on Monday at the Colleen O. Williams theatre in Winder. Eighteen candidates participated in the event.
The forum consisted of short speeches by each candidate. The candidates were allowed three minutes to present their qualifications for office to the crowd of over 100 Barrow County voters.
In the hotly contested county commission chairman’s race, the three candidates presented their plans for the future of Barrow County.
Candidate Jim Beckemeyer described himself as “the one that doesn’t have a real estate license.” Beckemeyer said he was running for office because he does not want his children to grow up in a “traffic-snarled, polluted, crime filled concrete jungle.” Beckemeyer said he wanted to return the Barrow County government to the people. He said he favored zero-based budgeting to eliminate wasteful government spending and would seek simple and cost effective transportation solutions and “get Barrow County out of the real estate business.”
Incumbent Doug Garrison emphasized the importance of continuing to plan for the future. Garrison said that planning should include team work, sound decision making, fiscal responsibility and leadership. He said elected and appointed leaders as well as those representing community organizations were working to make Barrow County a better place. Garrison said his platform consisted of five main elements: open and honest government, planning the future of Barrow County, infrastructure improvements for quality growth, no tax increase and promoting a vision for a better Barrow.
“I strongly believe teamwork is the right way to lead our community,” Garrison said. “Together we can all build a better Barrow County.”
Danny Yearwood said his priority would be to stop wasteful spending by “meeting our needs instead of our wants.” Yearwood said he supported commercial development if it was in the right location. He expressed his opposition to the proposed Cultural Arts Center and to any expansion of the airport. Yearwood said education and transportation would also be priorities of his administration.
“Let’s make Barrow better together,” he said.
Other forum participants included: district one county commission candidates Jerry Lampp and Larry Joe Wilburn; district two county commission candidates Bill Brown and Eva Elder; district three county commission candidates Tom William and Steve Worley; district attorney candidates Rick Bridgeman, Donna Sikes and Brad Smith; Sheriff candidates Murray Kogod and Jud Smith; superior court clerk candidates Lois Bernius and Regina McIntyre and chief magistrate candidates June Davis and Monica Durden.
After the candidate speeches, Republican Party chairman Kenneth Young emphasized the importance of voting in the July 15 primary. Several races will be decided during the primary including those for county commission chairman as well as the district one and two commission seats. The district attorney race and clerk of courts will also be decided in the primary.
“[The primary election] is the most important election that Barrow County faces now,” he said. “These local races are critically important. If you don’t vote on July 15, don’t complain.”
The next Barrow GOP forum will be held June 26 at Statham Elementary at 7:30 p.m. A third forum will be held July 7 at Bramlett Elementary School in Auburn.