ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County’s 2019 Election Results are rolling in tonight, November 5, 2019, as citizens elect a replacement Post 1 Commissioner for the vacancy left by Dallas Miller’s Resignation last month as well as a new Ellijay City Council.
This article will continued to be updated throughout the night until final results come in.
With 13 of the 13 voting precincts in Gilmer County reported and early votes counted, the results follow:
Post 1 Commissioner 2019 Election Results:
Jason Biggs: 227 votes
Al Cash: 249 votes
Hubert Parker: 1360 votes
Ed Stover: 206 votes
Jerry Tuso: 91 votes
Having received 63.70%, Probate Judge Scott Chastain has stated there will not be a runoff.
Hubert Parker offered a comment on the victory saying, “I’m elated at the confidence the voters expressed in me. I’ll do my best to serve all the citizens of Gilmer County.”
When asked if he was happy to not be going to a runoff. Parker said he was obviously happy to have it done now and to the county can move on with their business.
Ellijay City Council: 2019 Election Results
Charles Barclay: 71 votes
Jerry Baxter: 64 votes
Tom Crawford: 82 votes
Jerry Davis: 54 votes
Brent Defoor: 78 votes
Al Fuller (incumbent) : 110 votes
Katie Lancey (incumbent) : 81 votes
Sandy Ott: 126 votes
Kevin Pritchett: 109 votes
Brad Simmons: 74 votes
ELLIJAY, Ga. – With five days left to election day, many citizens are still deciding who to vote for in the county’s Post 1 Commissioner campaign after the recent Candidate Forum.
The five candidates in the race, Jason Biggs, Al Cash, Hubert Parker, Ed Stover, and Jerry Tuso, are still making strides in these final days up to the election as Gilmer still has some undecided and wavering votes. One voter told FYN, “I really wanted to early vote this week, but I have absolutely no idea who to vote for.”
The Republican Party’s Candidate Forum from last week is also continuing to provide one last glimpse into the candidates before ballots are cast. The event also held a straw poll showing results of those who attended the forum. Those results had Jason Biggs and Hubert Parker tied at 40 percent. Al Cash at 14 percent. Both Jerry Tuso and Ed Stover collected 3 percent.
One commenter on Social Media, Ted Barrett stated, “To me Cash and Biggs were running neck to neck until the last two questions. That’s when Biggs separated himself to take a big lead.”
The Candidate Forum ran from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. with each candidate taking 5 minutes to speak directly about themselves and their campaign. Then, they took turns answering questions posed by the crowd as they originally entered the venue.
The night concluded with extra time for the candidates to mingle and speak with people at their tables for more personal conversations. With the election so close, some may think the candidates are coasting to the end, but FYN has still seen these candidates working hard on the campaign trail in numerous events including last weekend’s Chili Challenge and this week’s Gilmer Chamber Ellijay City Council Candidate Forum.
With only five days left to the election, the one common theme among the candidates and we at FYN share, citizens need to find time through these last two days of early voting or on Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Election Day, to get out and vote. Make your voice heard as a part of Gilmer County and its direction into our future.
Priorities. Post 1 Commissioner Candidate Jason Biggs says he realizes that certain things need prioritization over others. Balancing those priorities and being successful in the position requires details and research, two points that he says are a large part of his life and skills.
Though visiting family and the county for 20 years, Jason Biggs has lived in Gilmer County with his wife for the last five-and-a-half years. With two sons and one daughter, he says his family has been a family of farmers and ranchers. Today, he proudly states his grandson is a native of Gilmer County.
Currently working as a Regional Security Manager, Biggs oversees properties to maintain security and safety on a daily basis. Also retired law enforcement, he is no stranger to analysis, research, risk, and budgeting as he says he operates daily on a number of properties within his given budget. He notes that as he continues studying the changing landscape of his business to continue new initiatives that he must research and implement in his business.
However, he also states he is no stranger to staying busy and working hard in his life. When he was a full-time police officer, he also worked full-time at a store-front business for screen-printing and embroidery for over three years.
Living in Gilmer County now, it has been astonishing, Biggs said, at how easily and readily he has been accepted into the county. It is the community that has welcomed him and his family and made this place a home.
Now, as the position of Post 1 Commissioner has opened and his current job schedule has become more flexible, Biggs has become concerned with what he sees in the county that is his home. He said, “The thing that concerns me the most is that we have a debt in excess of $4,000,000 that we have to service annually for a courthouse. That was supposed to paid by sales tax… It’s very hard for me to look 20 years into the future and say, ‘Sales Tax will be able to pay for this.’ At some point, you have to realize that there is a risk of that debt coming back on the taxpayer. And I am afraid that that might happen again if we’re not careful.”
Biggs said he wants to support the recreational sides of the county, but he also knows that to enjoy these projects, people have to be able to get to the pool. he said specifically that he is for constructing a new pool, but he wants to dig deeper to find “real costs” in the project including maintenance and operations for the larger size and a second pool.
Similarly, he addressed concern over Carters Lake as the county moves into a reactionary stance to this need. Touching on the possibilities at the lake, he questioned how the county would respond if they did create a new department. What would the staff costs including benefits and salary? What would the legal fees be for contracts be? What would operations include?
Biggs said, “As a taxpayer, I want to know, it is going to cost ‘X’ amount of dollars, to the penny…If I am elected to this position, that is something I want to start doing.”
Also looking at the roads in the county, continuing the improvements and continuing to “grow intelligently” requires the priority on this infrastructure to continue its prioritization. Biggs said the infrastructure has to be top priority.
He went on to say, “Tax payer dollars should be treated as sacred. You are getting money from the sweat off of people’s backs. I think there is a lot to be said for those people paying their taxes. I think politicians need to be very, very careful how that is spent.”
As he went through these situations, he noted that he has concerns over these issues, but he felt running for the position was his way to do something. Though he is currently a concerned citizen, he didn’t want to be someone who complained about an issue but didn’t do anything about it. Finding issues is the first step, researching solutions is another.
Sometimes these issues require strange answers. Biggs recalled how he came in for tag renewal one day to find the tag office closed at lunch. He spoke about citizens who work daily and take their lunch hour to try and comply with something the government said they have to do. Whether its opening over different hours or opening Saturdays instead of another day, the compromise between the county and citizens is the key to operating the county in favor of the citizens who fund and own it.
Communication, honesty, and transparency, these three keys to any relationship are what Candidate Jason Biggs says he can bring to the Post 1 Commissioner position. When the open conversation stops, that is when the problems begins. It’s the point of involving the people of the county to include new ideas from every walk of life. This allows the board to prioritize and maximize their spending.
However, learning more about the county is more than just listening to citizens in the board room. He wants to go further in learning the ins and outs of the county. He pointed to opportunities such as possible ride-alongs with Sheriff’s Deputies to becoming more involved with Team Cartecay, the mountain biking team that his son rides with.
“Being able to look back and say, ‘Hey, I made a positive impact on something that I was involved with would be the reward, Biggs said as he spoke about the county that has welcomed him. Fostering the growth and cooperation continues through partnerships. He pointed to the work the Gilmer Chamber and their work with local business. Small business in the county is a key part of the county. Being pro-business also helps to alleviate some of the tax burden to the citizens.
Just like speaking with citizens, local business is a relationship to work alongside in pursuit of an agreed upon goal. But maintaining Gilmer’s identity, especially in areas like agricultural success, has to be protected in the growth that continues. Looking at the county as a whole has to be part of the commissioners’ jobs as they move forward with the different entities within the county, including the cities and the Chamber.
He noted the recent budget sessions the county has gone through. Watching the videos on those sessions gave some insight into the county’s needs and what each department wants. It returns to the same process as the Sheriff asks for support in their retirement plans or Public Safety in their capital requests. He said, “When you start looking at the safety and security of taxpayers, that should be paramount.” But he fell back to the details of these requests and looking at the “to the penny” costs and how they fit into the limited funds of the county.
Hearing the opinions of the people, and balancing the costs of the county, Jason Biggs said this is the job he wants to take on. Running for Post 1 Commissioner is his way to step up and face the concerns he has seen. But, he said, “If you’re looking for somebody to go along to get along, I’m not the guy. I am going to do what I feel is the best for the taxpayer’s dollars and I am going to be the voice of the people of this county because I don’t think everyone has an equal voice, and I feel like they should.”