Well in Hall County there are several races to vote on during the Runoff on August 21, 2012.  These races are the 9th Georgia Congressional District, Hall County Sheriff, Hall County Commission Chairman, Hall County Probate Judge, and Hall County Tax Commissioner.  Here are my voter recommendations for the Runoff 2012.  [Voters decided with me 60% of the races.]

GA09 Congressional Race

No matter how much time I had, I could not review the statements that the candidates have put into each other’s mouths during the campaign.  It boils down to the fact that Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) has voted for at least one tax increase, including voting for the landslide losing TSPLOST while in the state legislature.  Doug also voted for the penalties that Hall County will get inflicted upon it for voting NO on the TSPLOST.  His attacks on his opponent Martha Zoller (R-Gainesville) have been mostly unwarranted and surrounding social issues of “gay marriage” and abortion–issues that she will have little or no sway over in Congress.  The Tea Party seems to support Martha, while the Governor supports Doug.  Zell Miller supports Doug while Sarah Palin supports Martha.  I have seen (and filmed) most of the debates, and they all tout the Republican party line.  Doug, however, has tried to walk it and failed.  In addition, his personal attacks seem desperate.  Neither have done a good job of telling me why I should vote for them.  I want somebody to go to Washington and kick some bottom–not kiss it.  I am supporting Martha Zoller, but holding my breath that she means what she says.  [9th District voters selected Doug Collins to be their next Congressman by 55%.]

Hall County Sheriff

Both of the remaining candidates, Jeff Strickland (R-Chestnut Mountain) and Gerald Couch (R-Gainesville) are nice guys when you meet them and both want the job.  Both have worked in administration at the Sheriff’s Office for decades.  I personally worked with Gerald on several murder cases as a prosecutor and can tell you that he is a man of integrity and that I trust him.  I can’t say that Jeff has ever done or said anything wrong with any of my cases.  Jeff has participated in Republican party affairs since Joe Cwick was the Chairman.  Gerald has only started coming more recently.  Jeff wants to keep accreditation and Gerald is not so married to the idea.  Jeff believes that the Sheriff’s office should remain a partisan race, and Gerald took some convincing.  Jeff says Gerald will be soft on illegal immigration, but Gerald denies it and says he will enforce the Federal program involved.  Gerald has a plan to reduce the Sheriff’s Department budget.  And today I got a message from some people that the Sheriff’s Department relies upon to vote for Gerald.  I don’t want to pick to be honest because they have both worked so hard, but if I do, then it has to be Gerald Couch but more because of my personal and professional experience with Gerald and his plan to reduce the budget.  However, I think both can run the office, and the office would be better with both in it.  [Hall County voters selected Gerald Couch to be their next Sheriff by 56%.]

Hall County Probate Judge

Another race that is hard to call.  In one corner is Brook Davidson (R-Gainesville) and in the other corner is Patty Walters Laine (R-Gainesville).  I genuinely have gotten to like both of them.  I have never seen such political novices jump in with such full force in an election to an office that almost nobody cares about (but you should).  They have had basically the same platform with some small variations.  Patty has really done her homework and legal research.  I have no doubt that if she does not know the answer to a question, then the lawyers appearing before her would be in trouble.  On the other hand, Brook has done nothing but practice in probate court since she started practicing law.  In addition, both the other candidates that did not make the cut in the primary are supporting Brook. Patty’s negative ad was uncalled for.  The Times’ thinly veiled support for Patty makes the hair on my neck stand up.  If The Times does not like Brook Davidson then she must be a honest, trustworthy candidate.  I can’t blame Patty for supporting her, however, it makes me worry.  I really hate to make a call on this race.  However, I have come down on the side of Brook Davidson, who has shown a real heart for the people.  No matter who wins, Hall County wins in this race.    [Hall County voters selected Patty Walters Laine to be their next Probate Judge by 58%.]

Hall County Tax Commissioner

Unlike the other races above, this race is easy to call.  Vote for Darla Eden (R-Gainesville)!  Her opponent Kent Henderson (R-Gainesville) is just not nearly as qualified as Darla to run this office.  Darla is a Certified Public Accountant, and if you think you don’t need one to run this office, read the reports of prior mismanagement that was undetected for a time.  Kent is a super nice guy and very charismatic.  Darla has come to Republican events, she has worked hard, she has stood in the rain, she is the most qualified candidate and she deserves to be elected.  The only reason she was not my first pick during the primary was because she was up against Charles Lewis (RR-Braselton).  [Hall County voters selected Darla Eden to be their next Tax Commissioner by 52%.]

Hall County Commission Chairman

This is the simplest vote of all.  The only candidate still running for office that I have given the (R)eal (R)epublican label to is Richard “Dick” Mecum (RR-Gainesville).  If you want to keep your taxes the same or make them lower then elect Dick Mecum.  If you want to restrain government, then elect Dick Mecum.  If you want honesty and transparency in government, the elect Dick Mecum.  If you want to avoid a $200M reservoir boondoggle, then elect Dick Mecum.  If you vote for his opponent Tom Oliver (Flowery Branch), then you are voting FOR all the things I just mentioned.  Note that Tom Oliver did not even warrant a single R after his name.  Based upon his support for bigger government and higher taxes, I could easily argue that he is no Republican at all.  He might have been the “chairman” during the 2011 budget cycle, but he wanted to lead us to a tax increase, not belt tightening.  You can read what I said during the primary here.  There is only one clear choice for a path to stable and good government in Hall County and that is a vote for Dick Mecum.  [Hall County voters selected Richard “Dick” Mecum to be their next Commission Chairman by 69%.]

Traditionally runoff elections only have a small fraction of the voters in the preceding election.  The numbers in early voting are looking strong, so we can hope for a good turnout.  If you don’t vote, then you are letting someone else make important decisions about your life for you.  Make those decisions yourself–even when they are hard ones.

Oh my goodness!  The printers (and the consultants) are getting rich off of this election.  A friend gave me this week’s “take” of political flyers–receiving 13 flyers this week for the runoff alone.  2 from Dick Mecum, 1 from Gerald Couch, 1 from Brook Davidson, 2 from Martha Zoller, 1 giant one from Doug Collins (8″ x 14″), 1 from Jeff Strickland, 2 from Kent Henderson (one was 9″x 12″, so big I could not scan it!), 1 from Patty Laine, and 2 from Tom Oliver.  I wish I had these earlier!  All were thick, glossy, and expensive except Dick Mecum had one that was a simple postcard.  Here are the flyers for your viewing pleasure.

Richard Mecum Flyer

Richard Mecum Flyer 2

Gerald Couch Flyer

Brook Davidson Flyer

Martha Zoller Flyer

Martha Zoller Flyer 2

Jeff Strickland Flyer

Patty Walters Laine Flyer

Doug Collins Giant Flyer

Kent Henderson Flyer

Tom Oliver Flyer

Tom Oliver Flyer 2

Runoff Election Results

With an unexpected 24.5% voter turnout (19,659 votes), Hall County results were completed by 9:00 PM.  The supervisor of election predicted a 16% turnout, so her estimate was 8.5% low (6,813 votes).  The data was hard to understand because right after 7PM the results shows 100% reporting, however the 100% turned out to be the early and absentee ballots only.  The Hall County results are listed below:

Hall County Tax Commissioner:  Darla Eden narrowly wins over Kent Henderson with 52.46% to 47.54% (or by 928 votes).

Hall  County Sheriff:  Gerald Couch wins over Jeff Strickland with 55.55% to 44.45% (or by 2,151 votes).

Hall County Probate Judge:  Patty Walters Laine decisively wins over Brook Davidson with 57.88% to  42.12% (or by 2,963 votes).

And admittedly the sweetest, and most important election result of the night…

Hall County Commission Chairman:  Richard Mecum dominates over Tom Oliver with 69.33% to 30.67% (or by 7,437 votes)–a 2:1 victory!

9th District Congress:  Doug Collins wins over Martha Zoller with 54.62% to 45.38% (or by 6,600 votes).

Feel free to comment on my thoughts below.