BY KRISTI REED
Though three Barrow County commission seats are up for grabs this year, only one will be decided in November.
The District 3 commission seat, currently held by incumbent Bill Healan, is the only one contested by candidates from both parties. The District 1 and 2 seats will be decided July 15 when voters choose which Republican candidates will serve on the commission.
The Republican candidates had the opportunity to address the GOP faithful at Monday night’s Barrow County Republican Party forum in Winder.
Larry Joe Wilburn, the challenger for the District 1 county commission seat, said his thirty years of experience with the Georgia Department of Agriculture has taught him how government operates. He said his main concerns were rising taxes and inadequate infrastructure. A self-described fiscal conservative, Wilburn said he had the “time, will and faith in his ability” to study the issues and come up with the best solutions for Barrow County.
Incumbent Jerry Lampp said he has watched this county grow and knows how to make the hard decisions. Lampp, who has served intermittently on the county commission since the late 1980s, said that while the commission has made some mistakes, he has learned from those incidents.
“I bring you experience,” he said. “I stand up for what I think is right. I stand up for what I think is best for Barrow County.”
In the District 2 county commission race, challenger Eva Elder and incumbent Bill Brown, presented their plans for Barrow County.
Brown said the board of commissioners has been working together to move the county forward. He cited the Target development as the type of project needed in Barrow.
“We must have this type of development to offset the property taxes from our homeowners,” he said.
Brown said fire and public safety would remain a priority and would work to keep property taxes at a minimum while providing a high level of service.
“We are moving Barrow County forward to be prepared for our future generations,” he said. “A vote for Bill Brown is a vote for proven leadership and experience.”
Eva Elder said her 33 years of experience in banking have provided her with experience in customer service and customer relations.
“I realize that you, the people, are the customers – actually, you are our boss,” she said.
Elder said the quality of life for Barrow County citizens was very important to her. To maintain that quality of life, Elder said the county must work on issues surrounding transportation, infrastructure, and public safety.
“As your District 2 commissioner, I want to work for effective, but conservative county government without tax increases,” she said.
Republicans Tom Williamson and Steve Worley both made their case as to why they should be the candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Bill Healan in November.
Williamson said he has attended the board of commissioners meetings on a regular basis for the past several years. He said listening to citizens has helped him understand the issues and challenges facing Barrow County.
“We have an obligation to the future,” he said. “We must have the strength and conviction to do the right thing, no matter how difficult.”
Williamson said an elected official must be able to distinguish between the public good and personal bias.
“Commissioners are elected not to become an exception on the board, but to become effective on the board,” he said. “Elect the official that will continue to move this county forward in the most efficient, effective way possible.”
Worley said he decided to run for the District 3 commission seat because he believes he has the experience and knowledge needed to help the county.
A twelve-year employee of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Worley currently serves as the Public Works Director for the city of Monroe.
“I can walk in that door and start serving this county,” he said. “I will not be a micromanager commissioner. I will use that staff and those employees and will help them.”
Worley said that while he did not have all the answers, he “knew where to get them.”
The six commission candidates will participate in the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce forum on June 23 at the Colleen O. Williams theatre in Winder. The chamber forum will include candidates from both parties.
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.