March 16, 2017
Up until today, the Monticello News and editor Kathy Mudd, has had a policy that no letters endorsing or degrading individuals, political candidates, or religious dogma would be accepted. Today was different, when she allowed a letter supporting a candidate for the District 3 Commissioner position. Shame on her!!
Why today? Because there is no way anyone, including the other candidate, could refute the letter before the election on Tuesday.
Today a long letter endorsing Don Jernigan was submitted by Skip Davis who serves on the Monticello-Jasper County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Chamber of Commerce receives taxpayer funds and should not be in the business of endorsing any candidate; in fact, it is unethical.
Skip Davis was the President of the Chamber last year. He lives in Turtle Cove, and like his candidate Don Jernigan, only attends BOC meetings when he is hoping to get taxpayer money for the Chamber or to be appointed to some board.
Obviously, Ms. Mudd has no qualms about taking any candidate’s money for ads while showing bias to one particular candidate.
Here is a copy of the original letter as it was printed in the Monticello News. TWG comments are in RED, and we hope you will add your comments on the blog or on Facebook.
There is an important election in this month for the Board of Commissioners District 3 post which will decide the potential future of our county for the next decade or longer. One individual will be selected to complete the remaining tenure of Commissioner Gene Trammell’s term. Appropriately, the contest includes two individuals with two different visions of the future of our county. This is how we do things in this country. We make choices.
Recently a blog posting suggested some questions for District 3 voters to address to assist in their choice of which candidate to support. Examples (not the actual questions posed by the blog) of the questions which the author(s) of the blog suggested were:
Should Jasper County remain a quiet, isolated rural community or should we follow in Commissioner Trammel’s vision of progressive, smart growth directed by rational and intelligent strategic planning? Trammell’s vision included raising taxes over 20% in 3 years and doubling the county debt, which is what progressive visions do.
The blog’s inference is for the former direction which could lead to our roads, schools, emergency services, and law enforcement continuing the erosion and decline we have seen in the past. The latter could make possible a future here in which our community which institutes smart infrastructure improvements, establishes safe and secure neighborhoods and provides jobs for our high school graduates so families do not have to be separated to find good quality employment. Bringing in more growth causes less safe schools, more crime, and higher taxes. The exact reason people have moved from Rockdale, Dekalb, and Gwinnett counties to Jasper County.
The blog in effect asks:
Should the County be divided by an “age” qualifier that states “old and retired” may not be as qualified as “young and employed?” Really? We are now supposedly advised to vote for someone based on his or her age, the age of their children and whether they are employed locally or retired?
Both candidates should be applauded for their interest and desire to serve.
One is young, the parent of young children and works hard at providing for his family as it should be.
The other candidate worked his entire life to provide for his family, served his nation as a veteran of the Vietnam War, gained valuable experience in dealing with life’s travails and continues his involvement in our community even after a well-earning retirement.
“Age” should not be a qualifier for public office! However, life’s experience usually makes for a more discerning candidate.
Should the county be asked to decide which candidate to support based on the size, cost or taxes paid on their residence?
We did away with the property ownership requirements for voting in the 19th Century. The amount of taxes an individual pays on their home has little to do with his or her qualifications to run for office. Any individual that serves on the BOC should also feel the pain of property taxes every time the BOC votes to increase them—which has been yearly under the vision Skip Davis asks us to emulate. Don Jernigan pays $169 a year in property taxes on his personal residence. A 20% increase would cost him a mere $34, while others paying $1000 a year and more would feel the $200 increase.
Where an individual lives is an intensely personal decision and not a qualification, or lack thereof, to be a commissioner. If we start using this sort of qualifications to run for office more than half of Jasper County voters would not be qualified to run. Not a great idea.
One candidate has attended Board of Commissioners’ meetings since April 2015. The other has not attended any meetings in the last four years.
Seems an easy answer to that question, no? Well, not quite.
The regular attendee started going to BOC meetings at the same time frame he decided he wanted to be considered an alternative to Mr. Trammell in the 2016 election cycle. He lost that bid. This is blatantly false. Ross Hays started regularly attending meetings in April 2015 when the Solid Waste Authority was formed illegally and the BOC planned to bring in outside waste to our landfill. Hays served on the landfill committee and attended BOC meetings from then on, a year before he ever planned to run for commissioner. Where was Don Jernigan during this time?
The non-attendee, Mr. Jernigan? Well, he was not exactly sitting on his haunches watching time go by. Since at least 2010 he has been at the Jackson Lake Volunteer Fire Station as a Poll Worker for every election. He has served as a direction of the Turtle Cove Homeowners Association Board of Directors for the last six years helping to manage that 1,700 person strong corporation. Don Jernigan has indeed served on the TC board and voted to raise the minimum water rate by 48% after the board’s proposed dues increase did not pass.
He has been a long time member of the Jasper County Recreations Department Board. He is a leading member and Veterans Supporter of the Jasper County American Legion, Post 110. He is a strong member and active participant of the Turtle Cove Men’s Golf Association which works diligently to raise money for the local community.
Maybe the “retiree” still has some productive years ahead of him with his extensive experience in managing his time. Oh, and by the way, he has attended BOC meetings. When? It is easy to say something and act as if it is fact, but just when has Don attended meetings—before he announced his candidacy?
We have serious problems in Jasper County and we need serious, experienced and capable individuals to work to solve them. Problems such as no job market for our graduating students. Lack of after school activities for our children. Hindered Law Enforcement and Emergency Services due to underfunding. The Sheriff’s budget has increased dramatically—approximately $1,000,000 in the last 4 year and comprises 33% of the county budget.
Lack of services for the elderly. Needed School improvements. All of these problems are caused by a low tax base. A low tax base- that the value of Don Jernigan’s property is a contributing factor.
Infrastructure upgrades and replacements such as roads, utilities, and environment. We need serious candidates who can and will address these problems, develop strategies to confront them, and find avenues to move forward for all citizens of our County.
Regardless of which candidate you favor, get out and vote. Please. Jasper needs your participation. A none vote is the same as a vote for the other side. Make your voice heard. And this is one thing we can agree with!
Summer J. Davis
Tomorrow is the last day for early voting. Only 107 people have voted so far out of almost 2,000 registered voters. Tuesday, March 21 is voting day!
What are your comments? Post them on the blog or on our Facebook page.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed, can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.