ALBANY, GA (WALB) - As voters head to the polls, they may find some familiar and unfamiliar names on the ballot. Monday night, Dougherty County candidates introduced themselves and explained why they should get your vote.
Candidates for Congress, State Representative, Superior Court, School board and County Commission took part in a political forum at Darton College.
Darton's Democratic Independent Republican Team put on the forum with the help of the Chamber of Commerce. Organizers say local candidates often have a tough time getting the word out to voters and events like this help inform a lot of people.
All three people who hope to take over a seat left empty on the Dougherty County Commission were present at the forum. Pastor Henry Brown, transportation consultant Gloria Gaines and contractor Harry James are running for the District 5 commission seat.
All three highlighted key things they want to focus on if elected. "I want to work closely with our Sheriff and Police Chief to try and cut down on violence, all kinds of violence, all kinds of crime that's being committed in our community," said Brown.
"I think we need to be concerned about our jobs and our economic base and what's happening here. We certainly need to make sure we protect the jobs," said Gaines.
"Crime has been the number one concern of the district and we think that we can work with law enforcement to make a difference," said James.
The three candidates are running in a special election for the seat left empty after the sudden death of Dougherty County Commissioner Art Searles. Gaines announced Monday night that Searles' brother Thomas endorsed her along with 2nd Mt. Zion Baptist Church Pastor Theodus Drake.
Two Dougherty County school board candidates continued their tense political race with a heated debate Monday night. Richard Anson and David Maschke spent most of the 30-minute debate at Darton answering pointed questions from each other.
Anson questioned architect Maschke's design of the new Live Oak Elementary School and his lawsuit against the school system years ago. Maschke questioned Anson's attendance record and his role on the Finance Committee at a time when the school system lost nearly $4 million in school lunch money.
"The Finance Committee, if they were truly monitoring the goings-on of the Dougherty County School System, should have recognized $3.9 million in mismanagement. The money was being taken out of the general fund to Child Nutrition Services," said Maschke.
"We, the administration knew nothing about that. I want to make that perfectly clear. The board knew nothing about that and when it came to the attention of the administration, they took active, aggressive steps," said Anson.
Anson has served 12 years on the Dougherty County School board. Maschke has served 8 years. They're now both running for the District One seat.