Meet the Candidates for 2018 races
For the first time since 2010 Lumpkin County voters will have to wait until the November General Election to learn who will win the open seats on the Board of Commissioners. Districts 3 and 4 have both Democratic and Republicans facing off in November. That is the last time a Democratic candidate appeared on the ballot for a county commission seat.
In the District 4 race, two Democrats are running against each other in the Primary.
"Since the Women's March in Washington last year we have seen a sweeping movement in the nation, in our state and in our local party to get Democrats elected to office,” said Lumpkin County Democratic Party Chairman Ken Akins. “This is a first step to bring our party back in Lumpkin County. … I am extremely proud of our candidates and we will do everything we can to get them elected to office."
The District 3 race won’t even be in the Primary. It will only appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. Incumbent Rhett Stringer faces off against Peri Lyn Gordon, one of two women—and Democrats—vying for a seat on the BOC.
Stringer is running for his second term on the BOC. He is the owner/operator of Chestatee River Adventures, a local kayak and tubing company. He also runs the daily operations of the family cattle farm.
“I am seeking my second term and want to thank the citizens for allowing me to serve for the last three and a half years. It’s been a pleasure working with the other commissioners, elected officials, department heads and city leaders [and] it has been a privilege to serve you. I hope you will allow me to continue because I really enjoy it and consider it an honor,” he said.
This is Gordon’s first attempt at running for office. She decided to put her name on the ballot because she feels “there are sustainability issues concerning the county revenue stream. We need to find better ways of raising revenue besides raising property taxes,” she said. “The county commission needs some new ideas.”
Gordon, now retired, is a former state and community facility liaison for a county mental health authority in North Carolina.
Two Democrats and three Republicans are vying for the District 4 seat vacated by current County Commissioner Bob Pullen. Dennis Hoover and Teresa Gay will face off on May 22 for the Democratic nomination as Clarence Grindle, Jeff Moran and Mark Zeller via for the Republican seat on the same day.
Pullen will not be running for a second term. He placed a “self-imposed term limit” on himself when he took office four years ago, he told The Nugget.
“I think term limits are a good idea and I thought I’d set an example,” he said. “I have been telling people for months that I wouldn’t be running again, and encouraging them to let people who might be interested know, or run themselves. The fact that five people are running for my seat makes me very happy. The more competition and choices the people have makes it better, not worse.”
Hoover is the innkeeper at Mountain Laurel Creek Inn and Spa. He will face fellow Democrat Gay in the May 22 Primary.
This is Hoover’s first run for political office.
“I am running for a seat on the Board of Commissioners because I want to make a difference in our community,” he said. “I hope to continue to make Lumpkin County a better place to live, grow, and build a business.”
Gay, an IT system analyst for a large financial service organization for the last 20 years, is also a newcomer to politics. She was inspired by reading about more women getting involved in the political process, she said. “I think it’s time we got a female perspective on the county commission.”
Grindle, a Republican, served two terms before being defeated by Pullen in 2014. He said he waited until the last minute before making up his mind whether or not to run for his old seat.
“I just feel like I want to give back to the community. I’ve lived here all my life, and I want to see things keep going forward and progressing,” he said.
Retired from the U.S. Army, Moran currently leads the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) Leadership Program at Lumpkin County High School.
“I've always wanted to serve my local community and after 26 years of active duty in the Army, I've finally been able to put down permanent roots to do it. As county commissioner I will be the voice of its citizens and have the ability and opportunity to make an impact on preserving what's great about Lumpkin County,” he said.
Being a Republican Party state delegate, said Zeller, “opened my eyes to the citizens being left in the dark about their own county and being treated as if they have no say in their own government. It is my ambition to include every citizen in the direction they want their county to go with true transparency and honesty.”
Zeller is also retired from the military. This is the first time he has run for public office.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
While the Board of Commissioners has competition in all its races, the Board of Education will only field one candidate each for Districts 2, 4, and the chairman’s seat. Every seat up for reelection is uncontested. Incumbents Chairman Bobby Self , District 2’s Craig Poore and District 4’s Lynn Sylvester will be the only names on the ballot come November.
STATE 9TH DISTRICT HOUSE RACE
Rep. Kevin Tanner (R) has served the 9th District in the State House of Representatives for three terms. He is a light commercial contractor, poultry farmer and also owns a security company.
“Whether it has been serving as a deputy sheriff, serving as the Rotary Club President, serving on the Rainbow Children's Home Board or serving on the Chamber Board, I have always felt a call to serve my community,” Tanner said. “Over the past few years I have worked hard to serve the citizens of North Georgia, and we have accomplished a great deal. I still feel the call to service and there is still much work to be done; so I plan to run for another term and to continue to serve.”
Mark Hajduk (R, Cumming) is a first-timer when it comes to running for public office. His reason for taking up the challenge is two-fold, he said.
“I believe America’s political process is at its best when issues are debated and discussed so that the best solutions to our problems can rise to the top. Unchallenged incumbents hinder this process thereby risking complacency and lack of transparency,” he said. “Second, I want to make sure we protect the things that make living here special. We need to be careful that we do not overbuild; otherwise, we will become like communities to our south, overbuilt and overcrowded.”
Hajduk is the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Voxpopuli, Inc., a marketing, graphic design and print production company.
51st District State Sen. Steve Gooch is running unopposed for his third term.
A new SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) will also appearing on the Primary ballot. If passed, collections of the one-cent sales tax would continue instead of ending when the current SPLOST runs its course in 2020. The 2020 SPLOST is estimated to bring in $18.9 million over six years. Of that, the county will receive 79 percent and the city of Dahlonega 21 percent. Projects planned by the county include funding economic development; water authority system improvements; construction of a new library; roads and bridges equipment, vehicles, resurfacing and improvements; sheriff’s department equipment and vehicles; and Judicial Center acquisition contract payments—debt service payments on the Justice Center.