Chastain looks to shed Elections from Probate Office

News, Police & Government, Politics

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Probate Judge Scott Chastain met with the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners in October to speak about the county budget in the Probate Office.

Chastain spoke to Commissioners about budget increases to appoint a Clerk as Chief Clerk and providing her with a raise and additional traveling to training classes with Judge Chastain in order to be able to fill in certain duties when the Judge is away for training or something requiring him to be out of the office. While she would only fill in for administrative issues, not court or similar duties. Also on his proposed budget, he spoke with the Commissioners about pay increases for the clerks as well.

Among other details including travel expenses and certifications for the clerks in the office, Chastain began a conversation with the Board saying he does not want to have Elections in his office anymore. Despite saying he just wanted to have a conversation about the issue and understanding that it would cost the County more to have an Elections Board than to keep elections under the Probate Office, Chastain pushed on the issue saying that many of the other surrounding counties have already separated the two.

Midway through the meeting, the Gilmer County Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller began speaking about the condition of some of the counties precincts. Chastain noted that the county has four precincts within a mile of each other and he was looking at holding town hall meetings next year to consider consolidating precincts together to save some money. He assured the board that he didn’t want to change any of the outlying precincts, but instead wanted to look at those “in town.”

As the conversation progressed, Chastain said, “After the nightmare, in my opinion, or the may have been hiccup in some people’s eyes, the Danny Hall situation from last year… I went through and listed the counties that currently have the Probate Judge as the Election Superintendent. At the time I did this, we have 38 counties in the state of Georgia that was still doing elections through the Probate Office.” (34:24 in video)

Chastain went on to note that the yearly supplement he gets as Probate Judge for also being the Election Superintendent is $3,800. He said, “When nothing’s going on, that’s probably not a bad gig, but when it’s full-blown election season and all that was going on, that was a drop in the bucket.”

Chastain admitted that moving the elections to a board of its own would cost the county more money and said his understanding is that other counties have had to add a couple of full-time employees to their payroll for the department.

He noted, “I don’t want to be the Probate Judge that comes in and gets rid of elections because we’ve always had it in the Probate Court, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand how it’s still there.”

Though he did say that he was, at this time, just wanting it “out there” for discussion, he did make special note that 2020 is a big election, suggesting that he wanted to have a final decision by then. He added that if the commissioners decided it is best for him to keep it, he would not “pitch a fit,” but if it is better to separate it, “then I definitely want to look at that option.”

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Probate Court Announces New Website

News

ELLIJAY, GA – Scott C. Chastain, Probate Judge of Gilmer County, is pleased to announce the release of a new website, which will give the public greater access to Probate Court’s public records.

The website, www.georgiaprobaterecords.com, gives the public the ability to search probate records and initiate some processes securely online. For example, you can go to the website and begin the application process for marriage licenses and weapons carry licenses.

You will still need to come in to the office to complete the application, but, by starting the application online, it will reduce your time spent at the Probate Office. The website was developed through a partnership with the Probate Court’s software vendor at no charge to the county.

It will help the Probate Court stay on the cutting edge of technology as more and more things move toward web platforms. It is user friendly and safe, having the same level of data encryption and security as online banking. While Judge Chastain assures that the Probate Court is always happy to see you in person, “We want to offer this option in an effort to expand our service to the community.”

In an effort to further serve our community, Probate Judge Scott C. Chastain and his staff are pleased to announce that the Probate Court of Gilmer County is now accepting Visa and Mastercard credit card or debit card payments.

A driver’s license, along with the card, will need to be presented to verify the cardholder. A small convenience fee will be added to the court fees or fines if you choose to use a card. Also, you now have the ability to pay your traffic citation in the courtroom during traffic court. The process is quick, easy, and convenient. This service is provided by EZCourtPay, LLC.

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Chastain Opens Up as New Probate Judge

Police & Government

January marks a major change in Gilmer County’s Probate Court. After 12 years, a new Judge has taken office.

Probate Judge Scott Chastain has completed his first week in office. As FYN sat down to talk about his first week, he spoke about the challenges he’s faced in catching up to the level of work required. He lauded his staff as one of the greatest strengths of the office with specific emphasis on their experience and familiarity being key in helping to ease his transition.

However, Chastain says he’s been working for the position since the day he qualified.  Through training and classes, “I have found out that we {Probate Judges} are a family… I am finding out that to be remarkably true.”

His assigned mentor, Judge David Lindsey of Pickens County, as well as Gilmer’s former Probate Judge Anita Mullins, offered help since March of last year for Chastain to attend Court Sessions and certain Probate sessions to provide what he calls the “foundation” for his job now.

Though that’s not all as Judge Chastain spoke as well about his time as a Pastor and how his faith has “molded me for these situations.” Though he stated a position like his cannot offer advice on proceedings and cases, “sometimes it’s just listening… to care and then to act compassionately,” a sentiment many will recall was also spoken of by Judge Mullins as she announced her retirement last year.

But there is more than just compassion needed in Probate offices. Judges face daily issues that test and stress burdens upon those in the court. While the Judge continues his education both formally and informally as he studies the handbooks, bench books, and Code Books available. It is motivation, he offered, that is his key to a good start to his time in office.

“Currently, I feel the urgency of trying to get things going.” says Chastain who feels his self-motivation will aid him in expediting his growth in position as well as daily cases and work. “I don’t want folks out in the community waiting for Scott to get motivated enough to go through their file. I want to go through it, make a decision, get it signed, and get it back with the petitioner or attorney.”

Chastain spoke of a desire to establish a system for himself to streamline his process to get to a specific situation, be decisive, and move forward while also stressing the importance of his mentor’s advice that he will continue learning things no matter how long he holds office.

One such decision, he has already made. Stating he will not be performing marriages, Chastain said it is something that Judge Mullins stopped 3 years ago, and he sees no need to start it back up again.

The rhythm he is hoping to achieve will not come easy, however. Chastain admits to already having spent a few late nights at the office in spite of a specific piece of advice that former Judge Mullins gave to him, “Don’t let the job consume you.”

Though he feels he needs to catch up and get the work done that the county needs, he still sees his family as a priority.

“For now, I feel like it’s important for me to get off to a good start and spend some time down here to get that done… I’ve actually had the luxury of spending time with my kids before getting here.” Chastain still looks to his own future as he mentioned hopes for more family and grand-kids as a possibility someday,  but wants to be available to the people of the county when they need him as well.

As he continues his transition into office, Judge Scott Chastain stated, “The honor to be elected by the people is overwhelming… It was very emotional for me to know that the people of Gilmer County had enough confidence in me to vote for me. Second, the Swearing In, to have the amount of people that showed up that day that wanted to be there and witness that was overwhelming.” Not only mentioning other Judges and family who attended the event, Chastain said it was also the people of the community in attendance that meant so much to him.

A smiled crept across the Judges face when asked about donning his black robes for the first time, saying, “It was somewhat weird… When you put that robe on, it is a tremendous responsibility. It is a respected position, a serious position. I guess trying to get used to that has really not sunk all the way in just yet.”

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Judge Mullins Holds Final Preparations Meeting for Election

Election, News

With Election Day fast approaching, Gilmer County is following the State and National trends by setting records for early voting.

dsc08398As for the current votes, Gilmer has already hosted 4,909 early voters as of noon Monday, October 31. Monday itself saw 217 early voters before noon despite being a holiday. However, Probate Judge and Election Superintendent Anita Mullins says this is not an indication that our actual Election Day will be slower. In fact, she expects one of the busiest elections ever. Many topics from the Presidential Election to the much debated Amendment 1 (Opportunity School Districts) will be drawing voters out in ever increasing numbers.

dsc08433Judge Mullins held her final meeting for preparations for the poll workers in Gilmer County on Saturday, October 22. Going into detail on what the workers could expect and how to handle situations, the meetings are set to prepare these volunteers for the single day that Gilmer County comes out to voice it’s choice on these topics.

November 8 will open Gilmer County’s Election Polls at 7:00 am and conclude at 7:00 pm and will conclude the last election that current Judge Anita Mullins will oversee. Any possible run-offs, according to incoming Probate Judge Scott Chastain, would be held in January after Mullins leaves office. However, Scott Chastain has already begun the transition process by shadowing Mullins through both the elections and every day Probate Court activities.

dsc08457With it being the final meeting, and final election, for Judge Mullins, her Election Team decided to memorialize the occasion and presented Judge Mullins with a plaque for her many years of service to both the County and Elections. Presented by Gary Watkins, Election Supervisor, it became quite emotional as the two have served together for 23 years overall.

Mullins will officially turn over the Elections Superintendent position as a part of the duties of Probate Judge to Scott Chastain on the first of the year.

dsc08417Chastain stated at the meeting he was used to seeing the workers at his station, but had no idea the number of people needed to carry out an election like this. Still, Election services are continuing to ask for more people to volunteer in future elections as the need is always growing. While Poll Workers are provided a stipend for their work, most still call themselves volunteers for the full day of work they handle.

Mullins confirmed with FYN that the large majority of current poll workers are around mid to late 60’s. As each year sees more volunteers not returning, the need for replacements drives the constant request. Though the time has already passed for our current election, you can find more on volunteering in this process at the Courthouse in Downtown Ellijay.

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County Speaks in Close Vote to Elect Chastain

News

The votes tallied with an astoundingly close race. Gilmer County has elected  as their new Probate Judge.

Some precincts came in as low as only 5-7% of registered voters turning out to their precinct Tuesday. At the end of the night, the votes set Scott Chastain at a grand total of 1,122 and Josh Teague at 1,090.

Scott-picture-e1455565967223When asked about his victory, Probate Judge Elect Scott Chastain said, “I’m very humbled by the amount of voters who supported me.” Chastain spoke further about his transition into the office by setting his business with someone to replace his day-to-day duties, but also plans to shadow the current Judge Anita Mullins in her office in the coming months as he studies and attends the coming training sessions for the office. He went on to say, “I was very pleased with the tone of the race. I think we all four brought something good to the race… I kept hearing through the whole race that you had four good candidates and then when it went from four to two I kept hearing you got two good candidates.”

The sentiment was echoed by Chairman of the Gilmer County Republican Party Stephen Aaron, “I said it very early on that it’s rare to have so many good people running for an office, and it’s great that the voters of Gilmer County spoke.”

hs-JoshTTeague-1-262x300FYN also caught up with Josh Teague to ask about his campaign. Teague offered, “I like to thank everybody who came out to support me. We had a lot of great help, a lot of great support.” With pride in his race that his campaign ran, Teague said, “I hope Mr. Chastain succeeds and does well in office. I wish him all the best and success.”

Though both candidates showed great emotion as the results came in, it only served to mask the stress of an election that sat at a 3 vote difference when the precincts were counted, it came out that the early voting and absentee ballots set the final 32 vote difference that set Scott Chastain on top of the election.

Anita-MullinsFYN also sat down with the third party in this election. Though she didn’t run in the race, the current Judge Mullins shed tears as she said she was sad to be leaving the office, but was happy to be taking more time for herself and her family. Judge Mullins gave thanks for a smooth day with little issues in the elections systems. When asked about the final turnout of the race, Mullins stated, “I’ll keep Mr. Chastain in my prayers, that he’ll be able to do a good job and that he will enjoy the job as much as I did.”

The final tally of the precincts totaled:

Big Creek
Scott Chastain – 55
Josh Teague – 47

Boardtown
Scott Chastain – 49
Josh Teague – 39

Cartecay
Scott Chastain – 90
Josh Teague – 66

Cherry Log
Scott Chastain – 38
Josh Teague – 18

East Ellijay
Scott Chastain – 71
Josh Teague – 67

Ellijay NE
Scott Chastain – 45
Josh Teague – 41

Ellijay N
Scott Chastain – 58
Josh Teague – 63

Ellijay S
Scott Chastain – 60
Josh Teague – 69

Leaches
Scott Chastain – 39
Josh Teague – 51

Mountain Town

Scott Chastain – 38
Josh Teague – 45

Tails Creek

Scott Chastain – 33
Josh Teague – 47

Town Creek
Scott Chastain – 28
Josh Teague – 41

Yukon
Scott Chastain – 49
Josh Teague – 56

Mail-ins
Scott Chastain – 60
Josh Teague – 66

Early Voting
Scott Chastain – 409
Josh Teague – 374

Author

Election Results for Gilmer County

Election, Politics

The votes have tallied and the results delivered. While some races will receive their final decisions today, others are simply looking on to July for the next round. Meanwhile, citizens look for answers as they study tonight’s results. In a remarkably low voter turn out, many of the races received  over a third of their votes from absentee and mail in votes.

 

Check out the precincts here and the totals below.
(Click on images to enlarge)

 

GilmerPrecinct1

GilmerPrecinct2

 

 

 

Gilmer Totals

Author

Experience does matter and that is why you should vote Scott C. Chastain as your next Probate Judge

Election, Politics

A word to the voters from Scott Chastain (paid for by Campaign to Elect Scott Chastain)

I keep hearing “experience matters” and I agree with that. I have the experience and education necessary and will be ready on day one to do my job as your next Probate Judge. Contrary to what you have heard or been told, due to our population here in Gilmer County the state of Georgia does not require you to be an attorney in order to perform the duties of the Probate Judge. To my knowledge, Gilmer County has never had an attorney serve in this position. The Probate Judge does need to have common sense, common courtesy, respect, fairness, compassion and the ability to research. I believe my years in business dealing with the public, managing employees and preparing budgets combined with the attributes I have listed above, make me the best choice for Gilmer County’s next Probate Judge.

The definition of integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. If you haven’t watched the debate from April 11th,  click here to watch it.  Listen very closely to the questions and the answers given. I was shocked and disappointed in a few of the answers given during that debate. The Probate Judge is required by law to do several things but performing a marriage ceremony is not one of them. Those of you that know me, know that I have always tried my best to be honest even when I knew it wasn’t going to be what some wanted to hear. I have a very good friend that told me one time that “plain talk is easily understood”. I am not saying things to get your vote, I am saying them because it’s the truth. I hope that my life has been a testimony to this and that you know that when I am elected, I will treat all of you with fairness, compassion and respect. Please vote for me on May 24th and allow me to serve you as the next Gilmer County Probate Judge.

 

Who will be the next Gilmer County Probate Judge? Watch the Candidates Debate

Politics
Candidates Scott Chastain, Susan Keener, Josh Teague, Andrew Lowman. Moderator CEO FetchYourNews.com Brian K. Pritchard

Candidates Scott Chastain, Susan Keener, Josh Teague, Andrew Lowman. Moderator CEO FetchYourNews.com Brian K. Pritchard

Members of TEA Party of Gilmer County Executive Board. Dave Meadows, Frank Oglesby, Buddy Barrett

Members of TEA Party of Gilmer County Executive Board. Dave Meadows, Frank Oglesby, Buddy BarrettW

Watch the Candidates debate in the video below.

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