With less than 18 percent of Upson County’s 12,244 registered voters casting ballots Tuesday, the current one cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) will continue for another six years. By a tally of 1,578 votes for to 567 against, the six-year SPLOST, which is projected to bring in $18 million to be split between the county and the two municipalities, passed.
By a contract drawn up between Upson County and the cities of Thomaston and Yatesville, the county will receive 64.46 percent of the funds, which will be used for a variety of county improvements. The City of Thomaston will receive 32.20 percent of the funds, and as they have with past SPLOSTS, have dedicated the entire amount to water and sewer line improvements. The City of Yatesville will also use a majority of its funds for water system improvements, but has dedicated a small portion to city buildings.
Of those voting for or against the SPLOST in the General Municipal and Special Election, 804 were early voters, taking the opportunity to vote during the three-week period prior to November 3. On Tuesday, 787 voters came to the polls. There were 42 absentee ballots mailed in, and one provisional ballot.
In the four new voting precincts, Town cast the most votes, and Redbone cast the least. Of Town’s 5,461 registered voters, 1,432 cards were cast, 26.22 percent. In Salem, of 324 registered voters, 59 cards were cast, or 18.21 percent. For Yatesville, of 966 voters, 135 votes, for 13.98 percent, and in Redbone, of 5,493 registered voters, only 564 cast ballots, for 10.27 percent. Overall of 12, 244 registered voters in the county, 2,191 went to the polls, a total of 17.89 percent.
When the Thomaston City Council has its first meeting of 2016 on January 5, there will be three new faces and four new seat holds on the council. There were four seats on the Nov. 3 ballot, with only one unopposed. Ryan B. Tucker was the only person to qualify to run for the District 3 council position vacated by J. B. Stallings when Stallings elected to run for mayor, so Tucker won without opposition.
In the race for mayor, Stallings defeated Coleman Dumas III to win the position currently held by Hays Arnold, who is retiring after 12 years in office. Stallings, who at age 39 will become the youngest mayor in City of Thomaston history, won with 707 votes to Dumas’ 495.
Stallings said Tuesday night that he is grateful to everyone who supported his run for mayor.
“I just want to thank all the voters in Thomaston and all the support I had. I’m just eager to serve and it is a humbling experience to have people behind you who support you enough to actually trust you to vote to lead the city,” Stallings said, adding that he sees a lot of work ahead of him. “There is a lot of stuff we’re working on now I’d like to continue see going. There are some issues we had in the campaign that I’d like to jump on, like budget building and the utilities. There’s a lot of stuff we’re going to get to.”
In the mayoral race, of the city’s 3,671 registered voters, 1,225 cast ballots, for 33.4 percent.
In the District 1 council race, former city council member LaKeitha K. Reeves defeated incumbent Gary L. Atwater. Reeves collected 213 votes to Atwater’s 70. While Reeves declined to make a comment following the election, Atwater released the following statement:
“I have been a Thomaston City Councilman for District 1 for the past 14 years and I would have loved to have continued to serve for another four years. However, the people of District 1 have spoken. What’s important is that you got out to vote. Always know what’s going on by studying the candidates and voting for the right reasons.
“First, I want to say, I love Thomaston and its citizens. I didn’t serve as a city councilman of District 1 for t $200 a month before taxes. I served because I love Thomaston and I am proud to be a resident.
“Secondly, as you all know, any time an elected official holds a public office, he or she will never be able to please everyone. However, I don’t regret any of the decisions or votes on the various issues that I made over the past 14 years. To those who supported me and those who came out to vote for me, thank you, ‘from the bottom of my heart.’
I leave the office of Thomaston City Council with my head held high, knowing that all the decisions I endorsed and/or voted for were for the betterment for the City of Thomaston and District 1. Thank you for allowing me to have served you these past 14 years. Serving as a city councilman and helping to improve the City of Thomaston and District 1 has truly been an honor and a joy. May God continue to bless Thomaston, Georgia and this great nation of ours. Congratulations to Councilwoman-elect LaKeitha Reeves. May your term in office be successful.”
In the District 1 race, of 871 registered voters, 301 voted for 34.6 percent.
In the District 2 race, Jeff Middlebrooks defeated incumbent Patsy Perdue. Middlebrooks totaled 171 votes to Perdue’s 53. Middlebrooks said Wednesday…
In the District 2 race, of 756 registered voters, 232 voted, for 30.7 percent.
In District 3, while Ryan Tucker just needed one vote to win, he received 316 votes. There were also eight write-in votes. District 3 had a total of 1,030 votes, and 364 cast ballots, for 35.3 percent.
No votes were needed in the City of Yatesville municipal elections, as there were only three positions open, and only three candidates qualified. Jim Maddox will be the new Mayor of Yatesville, as current Mayor Cecil Moncrief declined to run. Shane Moore will begin his first full term as a council member, and Chris Mullin will join the council as current council member Phyl Gatlin declined to run.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.