Posted: Tuesday, August 14th 2012 at 9:45pm
Run-off candidates ask for votes at South Hall GOP Club forum
By Marc Eggers Staff
FLOWERY BRANCH – The 100 chairs that had been set up in the main conference room at the Spout Springs Library quickly filled as 165 politically-curious voters awaited the start of Tuesday night’s South Hall Republican Club candidate forum.
With only six days remaining until the August 21 vote this would probably be the last time many of those in the room would be able to hear from the tandem of candidates running in each of the five run-off elections.
Jerry and Evelyn Vann made the long drive from northern Hall County because they wanted to see the candidates in person.
The Vanns said they try to do their "homework" before voting - reading candidate literature and visiting candidate websites, but they wanted to see them in person. This was their first experience at a political debate or forum.
"We pretty much have our minds made up, we think, who we want to vote for," Ms. Vann said, "but we just wanted to meet the politicians."
Club President Ed Asbridge welcomed everyone saying, "We got a week to go, I think all of the questions have been asked. Tonight will be an appeal (by the candidates) to you for your vote."
Each of the run-off candidates for Hall County Tax Commissioner, Probate Judge, Commission Chairman, and Sheriff were give four minutes apiece to make their appeal.
Martha Zoller and Doug Collins, vying for the Republican nomination in the newly created U.S. 9th Congressional District, were given eight minutes to present their respective cases.
The essence of the evening was summed up quite well by the two Tax Commissioner candidates, Darla Eden and Kent Henderson.
"My opponent has said that we are 180-degrees apart and I couldn’t agree more," Eden said. "Please, compare our resumes’ and look at our experience. Ask yourself, ask others, who do you want to account for your tax dollars?"
Henderson agreed. "I want to challenge you tonight as voters to go out and do some homework before you pull that lever. Investigate us… (investigate) anybody who is running for office; go out and see who they are."
Despite the acrimony that has seasoned some of the recent debates, tonight’s speeches were generally civil and measured. The display of emotion was mostly evident among the supporters in the audience.
The Vanns (mentioned above) said they enjoyed the evening. "I think on one (candidate) I did change my mind. It’s been valuable," offered Evelyn Vann.
"Maybe on one, that’s all," Jerry Vann agreed.
Prior to the start of the forum arriving voters were asked if they would like to participate in an informal straw poll. Over 100 agreed to cast a ballot.
Results of the straw poll (Author’s note: some candidates brought their full entourages to the forum and that can skew vote totals and not all who voted made selections in every category) were as follows:
-9th U.S. Congressional District: Martha Zoller – 68, Doug Collins – 41
-Hall Co. Commission Chair: Dick Mecum – 71, Tom Oliver – 37
-Hall Co. Sheriff: Gerald Couch – 70, Jeff Strickland – 41
-Hall Co. Tax Commissioner: Darla Eden – 54, Kent Henderson – 52
-Probate Judge: Patty Walters Lane – 65, Brook Davidson - 39
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