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It’s decision time for Grady County residents and an estimated $15 million for local transportation projects is at stake as well as a number of county offices and the race in Cairo for mayor.
Advance-in person voting ends this Friday at 4:30 p.m. Voters are reminded that early voting takes place at the Grady County Courthouse, but the early voting for the City of Cairo special election is taking place at the Grady Cultural Center.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of local voters have decided to vote by mail.
Grady County’s chief registrar, Malinda Butler, reported a strong turnout on Saturday, May 30 for the one day of Saturday voting. According to Butler, 83 voters cast ballots Saturday, 22 cast democrat ballots and 61 republicans.
As of the close of business Tuesday, 696 voters had voted early in-person at the courthouse. Of that total, 576 voted a republican ballot and 120 voted a democratic ballot.
Mail-in absentee ballots remain the preferred choice for voters this year, according to Butler. As of Tuesday evening, 2,140 ballots had been voted and received by the chief registrar. The breakdown on absentee mail-in ballots currently is 1,409 republican, 694 democrat, and 37 nonpartisan.
The turnout for the City of Cairo special election continues to be dismal, according to Municipal Election Superintendent Dana W. Barfield.
As of Tuesday, 175 voters had cast in-person early votes with early voting set to end this Friday at 4:30 p.m. Barfield reports that 150 absentee ballots were requested, 108 have been completed and ballots mailed out to registered city voters, but only 79 have been voted and returned.
“I have been disappointed with the voter apathy in our special election. I’m hopeful we will have a good number of voters to vote between now and 7 p.m. next Tuesday,” Barfield said.
Emory Thomas Sr., and Howard Thrower III, are vying for the mayor’s office to fill the unexpired term of former mayor Booker Gainor, who vacated his post to seek election as the State Representative for District 173.
One of the major issues to be decided locally has not received much attention from the public, however, the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) could mean big money for the county and the cities of Cairo and Whigham to finance local road and other transportation related projects.
Voters are being asked to approve the collection of the one-percent sales tax for a five year period beginning Sept. 1, 2020 and expiring Aug. 31, 2025. Passage of the tax would take the total sales tax rate locally to eight percent.
If approved, the county is planning work on Open Pond Road, Mizpah Church Road, Pine Park Road, Hadley Ferry Road Extension, Lower Hawthorne Road, Old Thomasville Road, and others. Voters will also be asked to authorize the issuance of $8 million in general obligation bonds to fast tract transportation projects, with the TSPLOST revenue being used to pay back the bonds.
Neither the cities of Cairo nor Whigham have listed as many specific road projects as the county, but Cairo city officials have stated, and the ballot language makes clear, South Broad Street and sidewalk improvements are top priorities.
In addition to the Cairo mayor’s race and TSPLOST referendum, local voters will be asked to decide on the primary republican ballot the hotly contested race for sheriff between incumbent Sheriff Harry Young and his republican challengers Steve Clark, Duke Donaldson and Jared Evans. The republican nominee will face the lone democrat in the sheriff’s race, Donald “Dickie” Thomas, in November.
Another primary race on the republican ballot is for tax commissioner. Republican Bobby Newmons is challenging incumbent republican Tax Commissioner Barbara Darus.
In district county commission races on the republican ballot, incumbent June Knight is being challenged by Richard Jordan for the republican nomination for District 1 county commission with the winner facing democrat Ralph Harris in November; incumbent Keith Moye faces off with opponent Celina Sholar for the republican nomination for District 3 county commission.
Voters are reminded that due to an insufficient supply of poll workers, Grady County’s elections superintendent, Denise Maddox, was forced to close four polling places for the 2020 election cycle. Voters who typically vote in the Lime Sink precinct at County Line Volunteer Fire Department, will vote at Blowing Cave precinct located at the Pine Level Volunteer Fire Department, 2660 GA Hwy. 112 North; the Springhill Precinct, located at Wayside Community Club is closed and voters will vote at the Whigham precinct located at the Boy Scout Troop #383, 245 East Broad Avenue on the Rattlesnake Roundup grounds; Duncanville precinct voters will vote at the Midway precinct, at the Midway Volunteer Fire Department, 2424 GA Hwy. 93 South; and Ragan precinct is closed with those voters casting ballots at the Higdon precinct, located at the Calvary Volunteer Fire Department, 236 First Avenue, Calvary.