ESPLOST, Bacallao win the day in Fayette Co.

Voters extend $19M/year school tax, elect new school board member

Based on the lines for early voting, it’s no surprise that Fayette County managed a 78.8 percent turnout in the hotly contested presidential election this week.

Fayette County school board incumbent Terri Smith was defeated by Republican challenger and college professor Mary Kay Bacallao for the Post 2 seat on the board of education. Bacallao, a Republican, won more than 35,000 votes, giving her nearly 65 percent of the vote over Smith, a Democrat.

Perhaps more significant however was the passage of the five-year extension of the educational sales tax, projected to add $19 million a year to the school system for the purchase of books, technology, school buses, facility repairs and upgrades. Also planned is a reduction in property taxes by shrinking the bond millage rate in using some of the ESPLOST funds to pay down debt.

The ESPLOST won with 53.72 percent of the vote, as the final tally was 30,218 in favor and 26,032 against.

Fayette voters also voiced significant support for the constitutional amendment allowing the state to create a charter school commission as a third means of approving charter schools. That measure passed with 61.8 percent of Fayette voters in favor, and it also passed statewide.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney took nearly two-thirds of the vote in Fayette County on his way to a win in Georgia, even if he couldn’t pull off the electoral college victory over President Barack Obama, who won re-election by sweeping all the key “battleground” states.

Romney in Fayette County won 38,046 votes to Obama’s 19,703.

A total of 58,764 voters cast ballots in the election, good for a turnout rate of 78.83 percent.