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Lamar goes to polls today

By Walter Geiger Registered voters in Lamar County go to the polls today to cast ballots in the Georgia general and nonpartisan primary. Polling places throughout the county are open from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. The presence of the highly controversial T-SPLOST referendum and several contested local races on the ballot are expected to boost turnout. In all, 811 Lamar voters cast advance ballots over the last three weeks and another 149 requested absentee ballots; of those, 93 were returned. With 26 of the early voters casting ballots on the Saturday mandated by the state, The Herald Gazette has determined that the cost per voter for that Saturday was $10.41. This was calculated from the registrar’s overtime hours and the amount paid to two members of the board of elections who served as poll workers. Lamar has 10,000 active voters registered to vote in the primary with another 1,451 inactive voters for a total of 11,451 registered. Inactive voters are still registered and can vote if they choose. The contested races on the ballot include: Chief magistrate: This is the lone contested in-county race on all local ballots. Incumbent chief magistrate William Thomas is being challenged by Shannon Williamson. County commission, District 3: Three Republicans are seeking the seat currently held by Jimmy Hearn who did not offer for reelection. They are Van Baker, Kelvin Chute and Julia Heidbrink. The winner will face off with Aaron Brown, the lone candidate on the Democratic slate, in November. Georgia House, District 131: This, another hotly-contested battle, pits Johnnie Caldwell Jr. against Ryan Christopher on the Republican ballot. The winner will get the seat as there is no Democratic opposition on the November general election ballot. U.S. House, District 3: This race will also be decided in the primary as the Democratic party did not offer up a candidate. Incumbent Congressman Lynn Westmoreland is locked in a heated battle with challengers Kent Kingsley, former Lamar commission chairman, and Chip Flanegan, a small businessman from Jonesboro. Local candidates running unopposed include district 4 county commissioner Nancy Thrash, district 1 school board member Horace Hightower; district 3 school board member Susan Byars; coroner Jim Smith; tax commissioner Andrea Anthony; clerk of court Frank Abbott; probate judge Kathy Martin; Towaliga circuit superior court judge Bill Fears; Towaliga circuit district attorney Richard Milam; district 16 state senator Ronnie Chance; and district 130 state representative David Knight. The ballot used in Lamar’s district 3 will show the name of John Samek as challenging Thrash. Samek removed himself from contention, however, and votes for him will not be tabulated. Looking forward to November, the three-way race for Lamar sheriff and the presidential election seem sure to spur turnout. The sheriff’s race will feature Independent Joe Buice, Democrat Frank Usher and Republican Brad White battling to fill the post now held by sheriff Larry Waller who is not seeking reelection.

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