Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson
Oconee County voters turned out in big numbers on election day, with a plurality picking Democrat Jonathan Wallace to represent voters in Georgia House District 119 and a majority picking Houston Gaines to represent voters in Georgia House District 117.
Wallace won strongly in the Clarke County part of the evenly split 119th District, ending with 56.7 percent of the votes in the unofficial tally—enough to avoid a runoff on Dec. 5.
Democrat Deborah Gonzalez dominated voting in Clarke County, giving her 53.1 percent of the votes in the 117th, which, in addition to Clarke County and Oconee County, includes parts of Barrow and Jackson counties.
Houston Gaines, running to replace Republican Regina Quick, who stepped down in August as representative from Georgia House District 117, had a warning for the Oconee County Republicans who attended the party’s meeting in late September.
“We’ve got to work hard to keep this seat,” Gaines said of the 117th, which is dominated by Clarke County but includes parts of Oconee, Barrow and Jackson counties as well.
Ed Perkins, vice chair of the Oconee County GOP, underscored the importance to Oconee County Republicans of what Gaines had said.
Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Donald Trump played a role in the candidate forum for the Nov. 7 special elections for House Districts 117 and 119 held Tuesday night at the Oconee County campus of the University of North Georgia, as he did in a forum last week.
In response to a question about Trump’s behavior as President, the three Republican candidates in the race for House District 119 strongly endorsed Trump, though Steven Strickland did say he had problems with 5 percent of what Trump does.
When Houston Gaines, running as the sole Republican in House District 117, was asked, if the 2016 election were tomorrow, would he vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton, he did not answer.
Clarke County voters are dominant in Georgia House District 117 and make up a very slight majority of voters in the 119th Georgia House District, an analysis of voter registration data as of Oct. 1 shows.
Clarke County voters also differ demographically from those in Barrow, Jackson and Oconee counties, who share the 117th, and from voters in Oconee County, who share the 119th, the analysis of the registration data confirms.
Early voting starts today in the two special elections to fill the vacant 117th and 119th Georgia House seats, and the two candidates in the 117th and four candidates in the 119th have to persuade voters to vote for them and to turn out at the polls if they hope to represent the area in the General Assembly session in January.
All six candidates have the opportunity to meet with potential voters tonight in a candidate forum at the Oconee County campus of the University of North Georgia and in a forum Oct. 23 at the Athens-Clarke County Library.
Oconee County has issued a building permit for Hobby Lobby in Epps Bridge Centre II, signaling that another big box retailer is leaving the Atlanta Highway commercial corridor for Oconee County.
The permit is for a 54,947-square-foot building and is the first issued by the county for Epps Bridge Centre II, which is across the Oconee Connector from the existing shopping center at the newly opened Plaza Parkway.
Hobby Lobby now shares a 87,543-square-foot building on Atlanta Highway at Epps Bridge Parkway with 2nd & Charles and Athens Pool Spa.
Oconee County also has issued a building permit for a second restaurant in Falls of Oconee, the commercial complex on old Macon Highway opposite Athens Ridge, a student housing complex.
The county has received plans for construction of a branch office of Robins Financial Credit Union on Mars Hill Road opposite the Oconee Primary School and Oconee Elementary School, just west of the Burger King now under construction.
Initial plans had called for two fast food restaurants on the property, both with drive through operations. The submitted plans show a drive through for the credit union.
Civic and political groups have scheduled several forums in Athens and Oconee County over the next month for voters to hear from candidates running for two open state House of Representatives seats.
On Thursday, the Oconee County Republican Party will host three or possibly all four of the GOP candidates running for those seats. District 117 candidate Houston Gaines and District 119 candidates Tom Lord and Marcus Wiedower have confirmed they will attend, while fellow District 119 candidate Steven Strickland is trying to rearrange his schedule, according to Oconee County journalist Lee Becker. The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.
Jonathan Wallace, who's running as a Democrat in District 119, will officially kick off his campaign with a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Oconee County Courthouse:
The developers of the expanded Epps Bridge Centre have postponed until some unspecified time in the future construction of the part of the project that was expected to include a Costco membership-only warehouse store.
In revised preliminary site plans submitted to the Oconee County Planning and Code Enforcement Department on July 31, Oconee 316 Associates LLC of Atlanta split development of Epps Bridge Centre II into two parts, labeled Phase 1 and 2.
Thursday, we reported that Gov. Nathan Deal had appointed state Rep. Regina Quick (R-Athens) a Superior Court judge. Now, Deal might be eyeing another Athens legislator.
Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville), who owns a tree farm in south Oconee, is under consideration for a position on the Georgia Forestry Commission, Lee Becker reported last night at Oconee County Observations.
Oconee County commissioners are considering a plan to tear down the old, unused jail tucked at the rear of the existing courthouse in Watkinsville and to build an addition to the courthouse where the old jail now sits.
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell announced the proposal at the end of a town Hall meeting held by the commissioners Thursday night at the Community Center in Veterans Park.
Eighteen people other than the commissioners attended the meeting, which covered a range of topics, including the Animal Shelter, Mars Hill Road, the proposed widening of U.S. 441 and the possibility of a property tax rollback.
Chalis Montgomery, a musician and music educator from Barrow County, told the Oconee County Democratic Party Tuesday night that she intends to announce her candidacy for the 10th Congressional District seat and is seeking help in forming her campaign committee.
Montgomery said she was motivated to challenge incumbent Republican Jody Hice in part because of her 7-year-old daughter, who has rheumatoid arthritis.
She said she anticipated losses in her life, but “I never thought I’d look at losing the future for my child, or her friends, or my community.”
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