HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Chairwoman Betsy Young warned Sunday, Oct. 20, of Democratic plans to flip the 9th Congressional District from red to blue in the 2020 election.
“Rural, mountain counties be aware of the ‘play book’ of the far left,” Young cautioned. “They know they have the city votes so they will concentrate on the outer areas, trying to change the minds of the more conservative voters or moderate leaning voters. These communities, like ours, Union, Rabun are targets. The 9th Congressional District is a target so we must prepare.”
Young offered the following tips to conservative voters:
- Register every Republican to vote.
- Check to see if you are registered, especially if it was done through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- If registered years ago, make sure your signature has not changed or it can be challenged.
- Bring friends to the polls who can’t get there on their own.
- Be an “informed” voter. Know facts, not innuendo.
“I am sure there are other important things and we will remind you as we go forward to 2020,” Young said.
Georgia’s 9th Congressional District is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White counties. Parts of Clarke, Forsyth, and Pickens counties lie within the district.
Georgia’s 9th Congressional District is represented by Republican Doug Collins..
Antwon Stephens, a bisexual Democrat, plans to challenge Collins in 2020. “Stephens, 23, said his deep roots in rural Georgia make him want to run against U.S. House Rep. Doug Collins. He would become — at 25 — the youngest member of the U.S. House ever if he were to win. He would also be Georgia’s first-ever LGBTQ member of the U.S. House,” Project Q Atlanta, “queer Atlanta’s most-visited destinations for LGBTQ, gay and lesbian news,” reported earlier this year.
“Stephens needs your help to oust radical religious extremist Doug Collins from office and turn Georgia’s 9th Congressional District Blue. Flipping one of America’s reddest districts won’t be easy,” the Democratic challenger’s fundraising website states.
The primary election is scheduled for May 19, 2020. The general election will be held on November 3, 2020. The filing deadline for candidates is March 6, 2020.
In 2016, nearly 80 percent of Towns County’s registered voters cast ballots in the general election.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Daren “Bear” Osborn, a challenger in the Towns County sheriff’s race, took to social media Oct. 16, sharing his logic for seeking office in the 2020 election. Osborn listed multiple goals and objectives, including advanced training within the law enforcement agency, the importance of cooperation between the sheriff’s office and local emergency departments, school safety improvements, and developing a community oriented anti-drug coalition for people suffering from substance abuse.
“Towns County deserves a working sheriff, one who will actively serve the community in uniform, and I hope to fulfill that position,” Osborn told FYN. The Republican candidate added that he intends to be a “visible” sheriff, and plans to continue his involvement in the community if elected.
While Osborn did not mention incumbent Sheriff Chris Clinton, the sheriff’s candidate expressed platform-related concerns in the past. Osborn gained publicity earlier this year in connection to a highly-controversial fatal accident that many, including Osborn, believe could have been prevented by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office through proper training.
FYN later reported that Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputies declined participation in two training seminars held within the county: ARIDE training – an acronym for Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement – which was offered in Hiawassee, and school security training held in Young Harris. Sheriff Clinton was extended an invitation to speak at the security event, hosted by Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, yet did not make an appearance at the state course. Osborn previously labeled the “missed opportunities” as such.
Furthermore, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton drew negative publicity in 2018, following what many in the community considered a botched Towns County Schools active shooter drill. Dozens of first responders from Hiawassee Police Department, Towns County Fire and Rescue, Towns County Emergency Medical Services, and Towns County Emergency Management Agency expressed disapproval – based on exclusion from participation in the campus drill – describing Clinton’s approach as a habitual, “lone ranger” tactic. “This is not the way training should be done,” Osborn remarked last year on social media. “You have to work together as a team or the mission will not be accomplished.” Towns County first responders, including department heads, continue to note a general lack of communication and poor cooperation from Sheriff Clinton with local emergency agencies, an issue that Osborn promised to remedy if elected.
Osborn listed the following goals and objectives as his campaign platform:
– Be a full-time “Working Sheriff” in a Class A uniform.
– Drive a marked patrol vehicle to be highly visible to the public.
– Develop a community oriented anti-drug coalition for people suffering from substance abuse. Good people can get addicted. We want to save these people.
– Establish a strong relationship with our Homeowner Associations, encouraging neighborhood watch programs. Provide security check lists for homeowners and security checks.
– Re-establish strong working relationships with all surrounding law enforcement agencies, as well as the fire department, EMS, and 911 center.
– Establish regularly scheduled training with outside law enforcement agencies and public safety, such as SWAT training, active shooter, and felony warrant service.
– Provide additional training for all deputies for job specific assignments, patrol investigations, courthouse, and school resource officers.
– Implement a minimum annual training level which exceeds the current Georgia mandated training of 20 hours per year.
– Deputies will receive training from POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) certified instructors, NOT online webinars!
– Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for all deputies – to help those suffering from mental health issues which law enforcement commonly encounters.
– Host regional law enforcement training for all agencies.
– Work with school officials to ensure the safety of our children and staff, as well as visitors to our schools.
– Work with commissioner to establish and fund an animal control deputy.
A second challenger, Kenneth “Ode” Henderson, entered the Towns County sheriff’s race Oct. 15.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Towns County Elections Director Tonya Nichols officially resigned from office Wednesday, Oct. 2, leaving the position vacant as of next week. Nichols duties included administering and supervising the conduct of elections, the registering of electors for Towns County, directing and controling election and voter registration staff and volunteers while serving at the pleasure of the Towns County Board of Elections and Registration Board.
The Board assigns work in terms of general instructions requiring the use of judgment. The work is reviewed through observation of elections for the nature of the final results. It is a full-time position requiring analytical challenges per the guidance of the Georgia Secretary of State.
Individuals interested in filling the position should possess a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Management or related field preferred, or equivalent work experience. Preference is given to candidates with prior experience in Elections and Registration or County/State Government administrative or clerical positions.
Interested applicants should e-mail a resume with a cover letter to Janet Oliva, Chairperson, Towns County Board of Elections & Registration, at email@example.com.
General questions should be directed to Janet Oliva by telephone at 404-277-2918.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – As Hiawassee City Council’s three-of-five seats election approaches in November, and national, state, and county offices loom the following year, Towns County Board of Elections may have to scramble to put new procedures into place due to potential changes in voting laws
“We are panicking,” Towns County Elections Director Tonya Nichols told FYN, June 10. “We are hearing nothing about the training or the bidding process. The clock is ticking. It’s disheartening. We don’t know where we stand or what to do.”
Hand-marked ballots could become a reality if challengers of the electronic system succeed in the continuation of the “Fair Fight Action” lawsuit, initiated upon the defeat of 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams. In recent weeks, a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the use of touchscreen voting terminals was denied by a federal judge. Attorneys for the State of Georgia argued that the lawsuit should be dropped as the Secretary of State’s Office is in the process of selecting a new vendor for voting machines, and widespread changes to election laws were implemented, including a bill signed by Governor Brian Kemp that calls for new voting machines that print paper ballots, extends the time period before registrations are canceled, and places limitations on the closure of voting precincts. U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg countered that “rapidly evolving cybertechnology changes and challenges have altered the reality now facing electorial voting systems and Georgia’s system in particular,” adding that the motion to dismiss the lawsuit disregarded that fact.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, should hand-marked ballots become the future of the voting process, the cost to Georgia taxpayers is estimated in the multimillions. “Implementing hand-marked paper ballots would cost our state more than the estimated $224 million, since that number does not include the costs of staff, training, and other items related to election systems,” Georgia Secretary of State Director of Elections Chris Harvey concluded. “A hand-marked paper ballot system would also dramatically shift costs onto local governments – placing a heavy burden on local taxpayers and drawing a stark distinction between this and other options designed to prioritize taxpayer savings.”
While the Towns County Elections Office anticipates potential reformation, elections’ employees are faced with a host of responsibilties, including processing voter registration applications, preparing advertisements of qualifying requirements, updating voters’ card files, and performing municiple street maintenance, which ensures software data correctly corresponds with the location of voters’ residences, among other duties. “We stay busy as we wait in limbo for what’s to come,” Nichols said.