The most important are those for the two county commission seats representing north Cobb.
Helen Goreham is stepping down as District 1 Commissioner for northwest Cobb after three terms, and five candidates are hoping to succeed her. Goreham portrayed herself as “the homeowner’s friend” during her first race against a candidate backed by “the courthouse crowd” and Chamber of Commerce, and won easily. She then pulled off the remarkable feat of vanquishing five challengers without a runoff during her first re-election campaign four years later. Not only does she leave big shoes to fill, but her experience is a reminder that it’s not always the best-funded or best-connected candidate who wins, but the one who does the best job of embodying what most constituents think.
So which of the current field of five candidates is most in tune with today’s District 1 residents? Former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne is the best known, but also carries heavy baggage from his tenure two decades ago (i.e. the commission’s approval of a controversial “anti-gay resolution,” Bedminster, his horse farm co-owned with one of Cobb’s best-known zoning lawyers, etc.).
Also running are Realtor Angela Barner, insurance agent Glenn Melson, retired Marietta Assistant Fire Chief Scott Tucker and former Acworth Alderman Bob Weatherford, who seems to have the support of the Cobb Chamber and Commission Chairman Tim Lee. Given the crowded field, a primary runoff is likely, and it should be easier at that point to determine which of the two semi-finalists is best suited to represent the district.
Whoever wins will face Democrat Derrick Crump in the fall. But given the demographics of the district, winning the GOP Primary will be tantamount to election.
MEANWHILE, incumbent JoAnn Birrell is running for what would be her second term as the District 3 Commissioner representing northeast Cobb. She’s being challenged by tea partier Michael Opitz and by plumber Joseph Pond, the latest chapter in Pond’s long feud with her and the commission over whether Cobb residents should be allowed to raise chickens in their backyards.
JoAnn Birrell was perceived by many when she first ran in 2010 as being a protege of and reliable vote for Lee. Instead, she has shown admirable independence of mind and vote. She’s savvy, is careful not to get out too far in front of her constituents and has more than earned another term.
In many ways (property taxes, road widenings, rezonings), commissioners wield power in ways that have a much more noticeable impact than most things that Congress or the president do, so it behooves residents to choose carefully when they vote for commissioner.
ELSEWHERE on the ballot, GOP voters must choose a candidate for solicitor general — the State Court equivalent of a district attorney. Incumbent Barry Morgan has done a steady job and has earned another term. There is no Democrat seeking the position, which means winning this primary is also tantamount to election.
COBB REPUBLICANS also will be picking nominees for three seats on the county school board, including two now held by incumbents. In District 2, incumbent Tim Stultz has frequently allied himself with fellow reformers Kathy Angelucci (the board chair this year), Randy Scamihorn and Brad Wheeler. With Angelucci choosing not to seek re-election this year, it is important that Stultz be retained.
In District 4 Lockheed analyst David Chastain is the preferred choice. Conservative Chastain is a “small ‘l’ libertarian” who ran unsuccessfully for state school superintendent in 2006 and is a common-sense reformer who can be counted on to line up with the Scamihorn-Wheeler-Stultz bloc on the board.
District 6 finds incumbent Scott Sweeney beset by serious conflict-of-interest allegations in connection with his secretive decision to go to work for one of the world’s largest educational technology companies, Promethean Ltd. In addition, Sweeney, who ran as a reformer, has tended since his election to side with the Central Office administration. His challenger, Kevin Nicholas, lacks elective experience but is articulate, a quick study and would be a breath of fresh air on the board.